WINNIPEG—A Winnipeg family has filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and with police after their eight-year-old transgender daughter was told she was not allowed to use the girls’ bathroom at school.
The Burgos family says they hope their actions will result in the human rights code being rewritten to make the rules for transgender students clearer.
Dale Burgos says his daughter, Isabella, was twice confronted by the parent of a classmate at Joseph Teres School and told she was not allowed to use the girls’ bathroom, as she had been doing since the start of the school year.
He says he has also filed a criminal harassment complaint against the parent.
After the incident, Burgos says the River East Transcona School Division informed the family Isabella would no longer be allowed to use the girls’ bathroom and would have to use one that has been designated as gender-neutral.
Wanda McConnell of the school division says they are simply following the policy of the human rights commission but the Burgos family says they are interpreting the policy incorrectly.
Patricia Knipe, communications director with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, said they won’t comment on an individual complaint but explains their guidelines: “Flexibility with respect to washroom use policies may be necessary to ensure that persons who are transgender or transsexual have access to a washroom that is as safe and comfortable as that available to others.”
Aside from this incident, Burgos said people at school have been very supportive since Isabella returned to classes this year identifying as female. He says they met with the superintendent in August to prepare for the sensitive transition.
“Everyone’s been open and they’ve accepted everything and Isabella’s part of the community,” said Burgos.
For Isabella, who wears pink nail polish and has coloured part of her long locks pink, the confrontation with the other child’s parent was clearly upsetting.
“I think that was really mean and I didn’t know if I should go in the office or not,” she said, grimacing and covering her eyes with her hands.
“I asked my teacher if we could learn about transgender in my class so they all understand.”