James Spencer can now use the men’s washroom at his high school.
The 16-year-old was barred from using the men’s room when he transferred to Clarke High School in Durham Region after transitioning from female to male.
Instead he was told to use the women’s washroom or a private washroom that required a key from the main office.
“I thought, ‘They’re figuring it out, it’s temporary,’ ” said Spencer. “But as time went on they’re portraying the message that transgender people are wrong and they need to be segregated. And I don’t sit well with that.”
In protest, he started a petition that got hundreds of signatures and went from class to class at the school to share his story.
And it has worked.
The first thing the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board said at a Wednesday morning meeting with Spencer was: “We want James to use the men’s washroom,” said Spencer’s older sister, Jess, who was present. “It was really surprising.”
“We decided it would be most appropriate . . . and that’s the direction we’ve taken,” said Martin Twiss, the board’s superintendent of education.
As well, the school’s private, gender-neutral bathroom no longer requires a key, he said.
“We’re piloting (the accommodations) at this school . . . it’s certainly teaching us a lot,” said Twiss.
The board is also looking at policies employed by other school boards as it develops its own.