The Locked All-Gender Washroom

Remington Ross

Richview Collegiate Institute has been making a valiant attempt at being an inclusive school: we have a no-discrimination policy, we talk about diversity and discrimination, and we apparently have an all-gender washroom. Despite these practices, though, Richview’s Christian mascot, lack of girls’ sports, and the fact that our all-gender washroom is always locked, just to name a few, continue to hold us back from achieving true inclusivity and equality.

As a gender non-conforming student, I was incredibly happy when I first heard there was a washroom that fit my needs. No gender dysphoria, no anxiety… it was perfect. Unfortunately, my excitement dwindled, as every time I tried to go in, I encountered a locked door.

Even though I’ve never had the chance to go inside, this isn’t the only problem with Richview’s gender-inclusive washrooms. The sign on the door and all of our school maps still present it as a boys’ washroom. These inaccurate maps were given out to all the grade nines, who were unfamiliar with the layout of our school. Even if the bathroom were open, this posed an issue for me as a grade nine who didn’t know their way around the school.

Photo by Melanie Jenkins

According to one anonymous student, during the only period when washrooms were accessible to students, there was a group of rambunctious people AMAB (assigned male at birth) using the urinals with no dividers and just generally hanging out in the washroom. This behaviour is disrespectful to both school property and other students and, of course, is not tolerated in the regular, gendered washrooms.
These actions and the inaction of the administration (beyond locking the washroom) leave the bathroom unsafe and uncomfortable for students. As well, the privacy issues dissuade trans men and other students AFAB (assigned female at birth) who don’t use urinals from using the washroom. The anonymous student did spot that there was someone in the single individual stall, obviously trying to avoid others in the washroom. I empathize with that sort of discomfort. I’ve been in very awkward situations being forced to out myself because of my use of a genderless washroom.

I’ve also been curious about garbage bins inside the washroom. If someone is on their period and goes into a bathroom that was originally for boys only, will there be a trash bin so they can dispose of sanitary products? I was told there were none present during the time when this washroom was unlocked.

I’ve asked several authority figures at Richview why the washroom is locked. They’ve all given me the same responses: ‘It’s probably being cleaned’ or ‘I’m not sure, try asking ______’.

In actuality, these problems appear to be quite an easy fix. It’s not hard to update posters and maps, remove the boys’ sign, add garbage bins, and monitor the washroom the way staff already monitors the rest. It’s not hard to implement the bare minimum measures that already exist for our gendered washrooms.

Whether purposeful or not, the inaction of the administration on this issue is a form of discrimination against LGBTQ+ folx.

Should transgender and gender non-conforming students just have to get a key? Is there a reason that this bathroom is neglected? Is the all-gender label on the door just for show? Why is the bathroom really locked? I am disappointed that there remain so many unanswered questions. I truly hope Richview’s administration will fix this, but until then, my LGBTQ+ friends and I will simply have to exist in discomfort.