UPEI considering gender-neutral washrooms

UPEI student union approves policy statement requesting gender-neutral washrooms in every university building

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 27, 2014
UPEI student union president Anastasia Smallwood
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The University of Prince Edward Island appears ready to address a call for gender-neutral washrooms on campus.

A spokeswoman says UPEI has been looking into the issue since November and will report on its findings and intended direction next week.

The university believes a satisfactory solution may just be a matter of changing the designation of some existing washrooms, according to the spokeswoman.

On Sunday, the UPEI student union adopted a policy to call on the university to provide at least one gender-neutral washroom in each university building. Further, the policy statement aims to ensure that construction of future university buildings take into account the need for gender-neutral washroom facilities.

Student union president Anastasia Smallwood says there is no need for renovating washrooms or creating new washrooms in the current buildings on campus.

“I don’t think it will be a high-cost venture,’’ she says.

Smallwood says students who may be transgender, or those who may not identify with a certain gender, can face undue anxiety or outright harassment when attempting to use washrooms which are gender specific.

“Ensuring students do not face harassment, alienation, or anxiety on university property is extremely important to the UPEISU,’’ she says.

“Council passing this policy ensures it is a priority for the student union and advocating for the availability of these washrooms is something we will continue working on.’’

“Our next steps will be to engage with university administration on the issue,’’ she adds, “and it is our hope that we can see improvements as quickly as possible.’’