Mixed toilets in new primary schools in Quebec, while Drainville wants to ban them

Students in newly built primary schools in Quebec use mixed toilets, facilities that the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, is preparing to ban in a directive which will be sent shortly to the school network.

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The Premières-Seigneuries school service center invited the media on Monday to the official inauguration of two new primary schools which welcomed their first students at the start of the school year last fall.

One is located in Beauport and the other on the site of the former Quebec Zoological Garden, in Charlesbourg.

In addition to large, bright spaces, flexible classrooms and arrangements in the corridors that have become an extension of the classroom, these new buildings also have mixed toilets only, with fully closed cabinets.

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Students not always comfortable

This new arrangement, however, requires adaptation on the part of the students who have questions about it, indicates the director of the Ancrage primary school, Patricia Boulé.

This is what emerged in particular from meetings which took place with young people to find out what they think of their new school.

“The toilets raise a lot of questions. They are not comfortable, but we involve the students in the search for solutions. We are in adjustment,” says Mme Ball.

However, it would be difficult to return to separate toilets for boys and girls, since students would then have to travel too long distances to get there, explains Mme Ball.

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At the Grands-Bâtisseurs school, director Catherine Dufour indicates that everything “is going well” despite some “cleanliness issues”, especially among the young boys.

Mme Dufour welcomes the presence of gender-neutral toilets in his establishment. “When we go to restaurants, more and more, in new places, there are mixed toilets. When we are an educational environment, we have to model ourselves to what happens in society in general and it is a good time to educate students and teach them to use mixed toilets,” she says.

From the end of primary school, students can question their gender identity, adds Mme From the oven. “Yes, it can happen, on the other hand, it’s more in secondary school where we will dig deeper (…) In primary school, we will only begin to touch on the subject,” she specifies.

Not a first

At the Premières-Seigneuries school service center, the director of material resources, Denis Delisle, indicates that this is not a first. For several years now, the second building of Constellations primary school has also had gender-neutral toilets.

This decision was taken to comply with new standards surrounding the construction of primary schools, decreed by the Ministry of Education, he specifies.

“It came from the Ministry of Education, we put it in place,” says Mr. Delisle.

However, upon verification, there is no specific reference to mixed or gender-neutral toilets in the Ministry of Education’s Property Planning Guide for primary schools.

However, it is mentioned that the “increasing diversity of people” must be considered in order to take into account in particular “personal or identity characteristics such as sex, gender and sexual orientation”.

Still in Quebec, the students of the Lab-school located in the Limoilou district, which bears the name Stadacona school, also use mixed toilets, indicates the Capital service center.

Mixed toilets soon banned

The debate on mixed toilets resurfaced last fall in the public space, but it was mainly arrangements in secondary schools that attracted attention.

The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, then clearly announced his intention to ban gender-neutral toilets in schools.

In his office, it was clarified on Monday that a “directive will soon be issued on this subject throughout the school network.”

“Boys’ toilets and girls’ toilets are here to stay,” said his press secretary, Antoine de la Durantaye.

However, there is no question of forcing schools to make modifications to existing facilities, he clarified.

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