The City of Campbell River is adopting a new gender policy when it comes to choosing washrooms.

Right to choose comes to City of Campbell River washrooms

'Self-identification is the only criterion required to determine which washroom a person uses'

Under a new city policy, everyone will have the right to choose whichever washroom or changing area matches their self-identified gender.

All City of Campbell River washroom facilities will soon have signage prominently placed indicating “the space is inclusive and respects a person’s right to choose the washroom that is appropriate for them,” after a decision made by city council Monday.

A report from General Manager of Facilities and Supplies Management Dave Morris presented to council this week says city staff have “begun discussions on implementing changes to city facilities and policies to ensure that the city is creating inclusive spaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community,” and presented a policy amendment suggestion in order to continue to do so.

The report outlines some of the difficulties members of that community face and suggests that the city should be doing more to offer “spaces that encourage diverse gender expressions,” as that “decreases the risk of margainalization and discrimination while fostering a more supportive and accepting environment predicated on equality and inclusiveness.”

“Due to a lack of understanding within society as a whole, LGBTQ+ people experience high levels of discrimination in employment, housing, health care, education, legal systems, and even in their families,” the report states. “LGBTQ+ people may also have additional identities that may affect the types of discrimination they experience. Groups with such additional identities include LGBTQ+ people of racial, ethnic, or religious minority backgrounds; LGBTQ+ people of lower socioeconomic statuses; LGBTQ+ people with disabilities; LGBTQ+ youth; LGBTQ+ elderly; and others.”

The report also cites changes to the B.C. Human Rights Code that were implemented in 2016, which “now provide explicit protection from discrimination, as opposed to what previously were indirect protections under other categories,” and suggests it is the duty of municipalities to ensure this same inclusiveness in all its public services and amenities.

“Municipalities are responsible for the quality of life of their residents,” the report says. “Equality and inclusion create more sustainable communities where people from all walks of life have the right to, and can participate fully in, social, economic, political and cultural civic life.”

As such, council has implemented the Gender Identity and Expression policy for all city owned and operated facilities, including the museum, Centennial Pool, Discovery Pier, Maritime Heritage Centre, the library, Tidemark Theatre, Campbell River Airport, both fire halls and the Sportsplex.

“No one will be required to provide medical documentation or any other form of ‘proof’ to establish gender identity,” the policy states. “Self-identification is the only criterion required to determine which washroom a person uses.”

Similarly, locker rooms and changing facilities will also fall under this policy.

“Employees and visitors have the right to use a locker room or change facility that corresponds to their gender identity, regardless of their sex assigned at birth,” the policy states. “Where gender neutral spaces do not exist and/or have not been created yet, private spaces will be provided within gender-specific locker room or change facility where possible.”

The policy was adopted at Monday’s public meeting.