School District responds to concerns over washroom format of ‘Ma’ Murray school

An example of a gender-neutral, or "ungendered" washroom at a synagogue in New York City. The new washrooms at the Margaret 'Ma' Murray School in Fort St. John share the same design concept of toilets in individual rooms instead of stalls. Photo by Quartz Media/Elizabeth Felicella/Esto

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Superintendent of School District 60 says that there might be some misinformation about the format of the washrooms in the new Margaret ‘Ma’ Murray School.

Dave Sloan explained that the washroom format of the new school will be gender-inclusive or gender-neutral, essentially allowing anyone to use the restrooms. The washrooms’ toilets will be located inside individual separate rooms with a locking door. The toilet rooms themselves will be positioned around a common sink area that will be more open to the school’s corridors. Students using the school’s toilets will not be able to have contact with each other except while in the sink area due to each toilet being located in a separate room.

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A post on a local parents’ Facebook group from someone saying they had heard a rumour that boys and girls would be sharing bathrooms which had over 300 comments as of Wednesday morning. One of the parents commented saying they agreed with the move, as it would eliminate the potential for bullying to occur in washrooms and actually result in more privacy for students.

However, another parent said that though they had no problem against adults choosing to live a gender-neutral life, “feeling like it’s being forced on our children and lives just feels like a violation of our personal space and rights.”

Sloan said that he thinks parents are getting excited about something that they don’t entirely understand, but said that he feels that the School District can assuage fears in the seven months until the school opens. What asked about a suggestion from the original poster of the thread on social media that all parents that are against the idea attend the next school board meeting, Sloan said that the Board Office has received several phone calls on the issue and that he welcomes seeing an increased interest in School Board meetings.

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