The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) today announced it is making all its washrooms gender inclusive. Washrooms will now list the amenities available in each space, not a “men’s” or “women’s” designation. Every washroom in the Museum will be available to people of any gender or gender expression.
"This approach will allow people to make choices based on their needs and not force them to comply with a binary system of gender to which they may not subscribe,” said Haran Vijayanathan (he/him), Director, Equity and Growth. “This is also an important shift for parents and caregivers, who can now go into any washroom to provide support without worrying they are in the ‘wrong’ space.”
Vijayanathan noted May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and that gendered washrooms can be unsafe places for transgender, gender‐fluid, non‐binary or gender non‐conforming people due to harassment and violence.
“People are entitled to use a washroom in peace. Taking a gender‐inclusive approach for all our washrooms, not just designating one or two as gender‐inclusive, is a way to create safer spaces as well as a culture that accepts and celebrates people of all genders,” he said.
Updates will be completed in phases. By the end of this week, all washrooms signage will be changed to include the specific amenities available in each space, including icons for toilets, urinals and adult or child change tables. Visitors will notice signage explaining the changes at the CMHR’s entrances. Additionally, all washrooms will now have free menstrual products available as well as disposal units. Single‐occupancy washrooms will remain available throughout the CMHR for those would prefer that option.
The CMHR will also undertake a space assessment with visitors, volunteers, staff and community members to determine any physical changes to washrooms, which could include floor‐to‐ceiling privacy panels around toilets and urinals.
“We know this change is overdue,” said CEO Isha Khan (she/her). “It is important we join the growing number of organizations taking gender‐inclusive approaches to make their washrooms safer and more accessible for everyone.”
This shift builds on the CMHR’s commitment to accessibility through universal design, which shapes every aspect of the visitor experience in person and online (more info here).