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Lack of sanitary waste bins in men’s washrooms may breach Human Rights Code

With the potential violation of human rights, the solution is simple, according to the college and lawyers

Signage of one of the few gender-neutral washrooms on the Langara campus. Photo: Trevor Nault
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Reported by Trevor Nault

The lack of waste bins for menstrual products in men’s washroom stalls at Langara College could be a violation of British Columbia’s Human Rights Code, according to three human rights lawyers.

Responding to the issue raised in The Voice last week, Dan Soiseth of Community Legal Assistance Society said that while the application of human rights law can be highly circumstantial, “to the extent that transgender people aren’t feeling welcome to use the washroom facilities, that could possibly be discrimination.”

A simple solution

Richard Johnson at Kent Employment Law sees it as an issue that can be easily fixed.

“The act of putting these [stall disposal bins] in a ‘male washroom’ is not undue hardship, so to create fair and equal treatment, in my view they would need to put them in,” Johnson said.

Last week, two transgender students at Langara spoke out about a lack of private menstrual waste bins in men’s washroom stalls.

The likelihood of this issue going to court isn’t too high, according to Lindsay Waddell of Moore Edgar Lyster. However, she  believes it could be a breach of the Human Rights Code.

“I certainly think it could constitute a violation of the Human Rights Code,” Waddell said.

“I would hope it wouldn’t get there because the resolution is very simple.”

Importance of discussion

Sherry Chin-Shue, Langara’s director of labour relations and human rights, was not in a position to formally commit to any facilities modifications, she stressed the importance of engaging in a dialogue with staff and students.

“If there are individuals who require accommodation for specific things, we want to talk to them. We want to try and work through it and provide a reasonable accommodation,” she said.

“Our community is built through consultation and collaboration together.”

Robin Holmes, a transgender student at Langara, brought the issue to The Voice’s attention last week, and  said he’s looking forward to collaborating with the school.

“I really want more people to be aware of this issue,” he said.

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