Several public schools in Ottawa will be installing gender-neutral bathrooms to help protect children who are questioning their gender identity.

Known as "universal" bathrooms, the Ottawa Carleton District Public School Board says the single unit bathrooms will be in schools where the parents of children who may be transitioning from one gender have brought up the issue to officials.

"We're proud of it. It's work that can be done, that needs to be done and we are trying to keep pace with our communities," said Mike Carson, the board's superintendent of facilities.

Parents and their children who are questioning their gender identity have welcomed the announcement.

Charlie Lowthian-Rickert was born a boy but identifies as a girl, and feels more comfortable in a girl’s washroom.

"I look like a girl so people think I am a girl. If I go into (the) boys’ washroom, boys will think 'Why is there a girl in this bathroom?' and they might bully me," she told CTV Ottawa.

Charlie's mom Anne says the announcement will provide her peace of mind that her child is in a supportive environment.

"It offers children and parents a measure of security that they will be safe when using the bathroom, that they won't have to hold it all day for fear of being bullied in the washroom," she said.

With the creation of the gender-safe bathrooms, the school board says it will be turning its attention to other facilities. Two high schools have already requested guidance on how to convert change rooms into accessible spaces for transgender children.


With a report from CTV Ottawa