Bernard Drainville bans new gender-neutral toilets in schools

The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, formally banned new mixed toilets in Quebec schools on Wednesday.

The elected official did not wait for the opinion of the committee of wise men on gender identity on this question, nor did he consult experts before making this decision, worried the director general of the Quebec LGBT Council, James Galantino.

Mr. Drainville, in any case, said he had “confidence that [les membres du comité des sages] will not arrive at the opposite conclusion” from his.

In an interview, Mr. Galantino recalled that the committee of wise people, which he meets every month, is currently looking into issues such as “inclusive spaces” or “the inclusion of non-binary young people in schools”. Mr. Drainville’s decision makes “no sense”, according to him. “It’s based on nothing. Mr. Drainville did not consult the experts. [La décision] is based on a lack of understanding of what mixed toilets are: toilets with real walls, real doors”, for the benefit of many young people, and not just trans people, he clarified.

A decline “

In his opinion, the minister’s ban is far from being an “excellent compromise,” as Mr. Drainville put forward. “It’s more of a step backwards,” argued James Galantino.

Minister Drainville’s directive is directly in line with his opposition to mixed toilets, expressed in September on the basis of his own “privacy expertise”. However, it contrasts with the recommendations of his own ministry. In 2021, it described as “an appropriate administrative measure” the fact of “providing neutral places of privacy allowing the free choice of students and staff”.

In the directive published Wednesday in the Official Gazette, the Minister of Education asks school service centers to build “gendered (boys/girls)” changing rooms and toilets. In the future, and in all projects “where the design progress is less than 30%”, mixed toilets will be prohibited.

School service centers must nevertheless ensure “provide individual, universal and accessible toilets without restriction for students who need them or who wish to use them”. Minister Drainville requires that these facilities be “appropriate, safe and located in strategic locations allowing adequate surveillance, such as in a common circulation area.”

In front of journalists, Mr. Drainville welcomed a “pragmatic” decision. “It respects the rights of everyone. It is a solution that is very respectful and very balanced. And we are very proud of this decision,” he declared.

$350,000 in salaries for “wise men”

In the wake of Mr. Drainville’s announcement, elected officials were questioned about the mandate of the committee of wise men. The study of appropriations revealed that its president, Diane Lavallée, will receive $119,600 for her mandate. His collaborators Jean-Bernard Trudeau and Patrick Taillon will receive $114,200 each.

“Don’t worry, there’s no shortage of work. They are currently meeting with more than 70 organizations and groups. So they do their job,” said Minister Suzanne Roy, to whom the committee reports. She assured that the report of the “wise men” would not end up on a shelf.

There are “much more specific questions” than those of toilets which are studied by the committee, also explained Martine Biron, in her capacity as minister responsible for the fight against homophobia and transphobia. These questions “require us to look a little more or do an international review to see exactly what is being done elsewhere, to see the best practices, to take a little break because we are being questioned every few weeks. on files which are complex, which call into question the balance of certain individuals, she added. I think you have to take care of people and not talk nonsense.”

“Distraction” and “grand cru”

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