A Sturgeon Composite High School (SCHS) student's petition for gender-specific washrooms is gaining traction.
Evan Gabbey, a Grade 11 student from SCHS, gave his speech on washroom designation to the Sturgeon School Division Board of Trustees and attendees on Wednesday night (November 8).
Before the start of the school year, all of the washrooms in SCHS were changed to gender-neutral. The move seemed to shock students and parents, creating what Gabbey described as "unrest."
After complaints, SCHS adjusted the arrangement to three main sets of washrooms. Now one female washroom and one male washroom each have three stalls. The gender neutral washroom has 10 stalls and the third has yet to open due to construction.
Gabbey requested the school increase the amount of gender-specific washrooms.
"I would like to make it clear that we are not against gender-neutral washrooms. They are an excellent way of accommodating those who do not feel comfortable using male or female ones," said Gabbey.
However, he believes there just aren't enough of the gender-specific facilities. In his presentation, Gabbey said there are longer wait times for the crowded gender-specific washrooms.
Women have raised concerns of needing extra privacy when changing hygiene products and the space above or below the stalls has caused multiple cellphone-related privacy issues.
Recently, the men's washroom was vandalized, leaving them without one for a week. In what he called a "breaking point," Gabbey and his classmates decided to start a petition.
During lunch break he gathered 112 signatures, within a week it jumped up to 333.
"We figured this would be the most effective way of getting our point across that students aren't happy with what's going on," said Gabbey.
Instead of creating harmony and inclusiveness, Gabbey believes the neutral washrooms have polarized the student body into an "us vs them" battle. He's noticed resentment towards the LGBTQ groups, rather than incorporating them into the school.
According to reports, it isn't just students and parents wanting the facilities, at least five teachers want to limit gender-neutral washrooms after numerous inappropriate activities.
Gabbey's proposal for the three main sets of washrooms to be gender-specific and two smaller individual areas to become gender-neutral was ultimately turned down.
The board of trustees decided to look into changing the washrooms under construction to gender-specific when opened. They will be reviewing the washroom designation in their next meeting at the end of the month.