In a North American first, a Canadian Catholic school district has adopted a policy to accommodate transgender students, reports BTV Vancouver.
Vancouver's archdiocese released a document instructing school officials to accommodate the pronoun, uniform, restroom, and name changes of transgender students, as assessed on a case-by-case basis last week.
The change comes in response to a human rights complaint filed by the family of Tracey Wilson, an 11-year-old transgender girl who was not allowed to express her female gender at her semi-private Catholic school. It also follows less than a month after the secular Vancouver School Board updated its own policies surrounding the treatment and privacy rights of transgender students.
While the sixth-grader and her family are celebrating an unprecedented decision that could, according to their lawyer Barbara Findlay, "serve as a template for other Catholic school districts everywhere," some have argued the policy doesn't go far enough.
In limiting its coverage to gender expression, the school district says it still does not allow students to change their gender identity — namely, though medical transition. This, according to superintendent Doug Lauson, is the best balance between being "as inclusive as we can while still retaining our Catholic identity."
"For a Catholic school board, it's progressive," argues Canada.com columnist Lauren Strapagiel. "… [But] unless transgender children like Wilson are actually afforded respect and dignity that includes recognition of the legitimacy of their gender identity, it's a sure bet that others will endure similar hardship. These kids deserve better."
Tracey and her siblings have since moved to a public school and do not plan on returning to their former institution, reports CTV.
Watch BTV Vancouver's report below.