By Braelyn Cheer
It’s a few weeks into the school year, and by this point, we’ve all seen the construction ---pipes sticking out of the wall, signs reading DANGER: CONSTRUCTION AREA, and AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.
And while greenhouse repairs and new water fountains are all well and mostly good, one of the biggest changes to Canterbury High School this year is the installation of new, gender-neutral bathrooms and change rooms.
According to Canterbury’s principal, Mr. Alan Johnson, “the renovations that we have going on right now [have] been years in the works.” In fact, he reports that there were a number of students who expressed interest in the creation of gender-neutral spaces when he first came to CHS in 2013. Mr. Johnson believes that many benefits will be gleaned from these additions, such as a safe changing place for individuals.
Grade ten student Odie Walker, who identifies as genderfluid, expresses their day-to-day struggle with the male-female bathrooms. “Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly masculine, I’ll feel, like, really daunted to go into a male’s bathroom,” they told us. “[However, that’s] somewhat frowned upon when you don’t own a proper [chest] binder, and you don’t properly present as masculine. At the same time, trying to walk into a female bathroom can be even more daunting than that for your own dysphoria.”
We asked Odie what they thought about these new changes: “It’s the sort of thing that’s going to end up meaning a lot more than anybody might think… And, the idea of having a safe place to express your gender identity...in the school...is especially helping with the safe community.”
It’s the sort of (change) that’s going to end up meaning a lot more than anybody might think."
Finally, we spoke with the co-heads of the CHS Pride Club. “People who aren’t non-binary already have a washroom,” said Caeleigh MacDonald.
Katey Best added that before this year, “the only options for non-binary people who really didn’t feel comfortable going to a female-gendered or male-gendered washroom was to go to the Student Services washroom.”
The main issue with this is that “there’s only one, and you have to ask to use it, which can be kind of upsetting for some people,” Caeleigh said.
Teagan Arnott, another co-head, put in that she didn’t know about the student services bathroom until Grade 10. She also pointed out that “it’s very much out of the way, since it’s in guidance.”
Caeleigh admits they were not told about these changes ahead of time, and it wasn’t really their doing. In light of this, all three co-heads agree that the school has gone beyond their expectations in building both washrooms and change rooms.
The construction of the new facilities is expected to be finished sometime in late November, according to Mr. Johnson.