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School praised for installing gender-neutral toilet to include trans 6-year-old

Joseph McCormick May 15, 2016
Gender-neutral toilet

A school in Auckland, New Zealand has been praised for installing a gender-neutral toilet to help a 6-year-old trans kid feel accepted.

The Board of Trustees at the school gave the go-ahed to install the facility earlier in 2016 with the support of the Education Ministry.

The school was not named by the New Zealand Herald in order to protect the privacy of the child.

Classmates of the trans student have fully accepted her transition, said sources close to the girl.

According to the school board chairman: “We have a policy of safety around identity and culture, and that includes gender. We feel strongly that every child deserves to feel safe in the school environment.”

He went on to say that other parents were not consulted, in the same way that they would not be consulted about measures to support any other child.

“I believe our parent community supports diversity [anyway]. It’s a child who identifies as a different gender than the one they were born with,” he went on.

“There’s nothing scary about that, there’s nothing unusual about that. It’s been happening since the beginning of human kind. We are just more aware of it now, and we’re making sure [those transitioning] are safe.

“I’m proud to be part of a school that says ‘it’s okay to be who you are and we are going to make sure you get the best education, without worrying about anything else’.”

The school was commended by LGBT rights group Rainbow Youth.

Duncan Matthews said: “It is awesome the school has taken active steps helping those people who wouldn’t feel comfortable using a gender-specific bathroom.

“It is great this school is leading the way to show other schools the sky doesn’t fall down if you have a gender-neutral or unisex bathroom.”

According to a recent survey cited by the Herald, 1.2 percent of school age children in New Zealand identify as trans.

That would mean around 9,000 kids across the country or 3,000 in Auckland alone.

Matthews said a growing number of parents were looking to Rainbow Youth for support.

Speaking for the Ministry of Education, Katrina Casey said: “Our standard design is for individual self-contained bathrooms that can be used by either gender.”

A leading private school in the UK earlier this year made a change to its uniform policy in order to make trans students feel more welcome.

Brighton College, which takes students from the age of eight, is removing gendered uniform roles, to accommodate for gender non-conforming and trans students.

More: New Zealand, New Zealand, school, Trans

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