June 1, 2021Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of its community where everyone can experience a powerful sense of belonging. Laurier also strives to be a place in which all individuals can express their authentic selves.
As part of the university’s efforts to support this commitment, signs will be installed at all gender-specific, multi-user washrooms at the university over the month of June to remind Laurier community members that everyone has the right to use the washroom that aligns with their lived gender identity and/or expression. The signs also encourage users to refrain from questioning someone about which washroom they choose to use.
“Laurier respects and supports everyone's right to choose a washroom based on how they identify,” says Ivan Joseph, vice-president of student affairs at Laurier. “I hope the inclusive washroom initiative will send a very strong message to all members of our community that they belong and are welcome at Laurier.”
Accessing a washroom on campus can present a barrier for some trans and gender diverse people due to gender monitoring and fear of harm and harassment. OutLook, a study involving Laurier researchers, explored the wellbeing of LGBTQ2S+ communities in Waterloo Region and found that 57% of trans participants avoided public washrooms.
“We want all employees and students to feel supported and included at Laurier,” says Pam Cant, chief human resources and equity officer. “Highlighting Laurier's support for everyone’s right to choose a washroom that aligns with their gender identity is an important part of making our campuses inclusive, accessible and welcoming. We also hope that the signage and supporting information on the website helps to educate our community about gender inclusivity more broadly.”
Many of the gender symbols (women/men) that marked single-user washrooms were removed throughout 2015-2017, driven by a group of graduate students on the Brantford campus and the Centre for Women and Trans People in Waterloo, which was a critical step to increasing washroom inclusiveness at Laurier.
The new signage at gender-specific, multi-user washrooms intends to further increase the inclusiveness of spaces – indicating that Laurier respects and supports everyone’s right to choose a washroom based on how they identify and present.
“Every person has the right to access a washroom that affirms their gender identity without fear of transphobic harm or violence,” reads a statement by Queer Sphere, a student collective dedicated to promoting rights for 2SLGBTQ+ people. “We firmly believe that trans and gender non-conforming people should be able to access a washroom on campus without needing to justify their identity.”
The project was made possible through the generous support of the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, with funds from the Student Life Levy.
The project involves a collaboration between the Centre for Student Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Human Resources, the Office of Dispute Resolution and Sexual Violence Support and the University Employment Equity Advisory Committee.
Find out more information about Laurier’s gender-inclusive washroom initiative, including a list of FAQs, list of single-stall, gender-neutral washrooms locations, pathways to support and bystander tips: