Peel school board launches gender-neutral washrooms, new directives

By Avery Haines and Betty Wondimu

Every single high school in Peel will have gender-neutral washrooms this year, as part of a groundbreaking series of new directives at the Peel District School Board.

Those new directive was brought alongside the board’s new theme for the year, ‘We Inspire Hope,’ which strives to create safe and positive environments that prepare students to be empathetic citizens of the world.

Instead of featuring a traditional male or female sign, these washrooms will have an ‘Inclusive Washroom’ label and will not distinguish any genders. There is also a plan to discuss extending the new policy to middle schools.

“It will be for any student who needs that safe place,” said director Tony Pontes.

In his annual speech to educators, Ponte also said that changes to school dress code are coming. The goal is to ban students and staff from wearing clothing with logos that may be “hurtful and offensive.” Logos for the Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins may all be considered in a dress code change that could see the banning of offensive trademarks by the end of this year.

Last year, two Peel high-schools committed to change their sports teams’ branding because of concerns it was offensive to First Nations communities.

Chinguacousy Secondary is set to change the names and logos of all its sports teams, now called the Chiefs, this year.

Port Credit Secondary also finalized their name and logo change earlier this month. The team formerly known as the Chiefs will now be known as the Timberwolves.

The board will also tackle the controversial issue of the black-male experience in the education system. Education Director Tony Pontes said these students are too often streamed into non-academic courses and are more likely to be suspended or expelled. Pontes said he expects the board to start tracking race-based statistics to see how widespread the problem is and then brainstorm ways to address it.

Educators have also been issued a directive that the director acknowledges “some might immediately like and some might hate.” As of September 6, teachers and administrative staff are prohibited from sending work emails between Friday at 6 p.m. until Monday at 7 a.m..

“Emails on Saturday or Sunday [can be] stress inducing. It means they cannot relax and disconnect from what’s a demanding job.”

The Peel District School board is the largest employer in the region and services more than 153-thousand students.

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