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Icelandic elementary school adopts a gender-neutral policy, removing gendered restroom signs

By Staff

  • The first gender neutral school in Iceland An elementary school on Reykjanes peninsula has removed gendered signs from its bathrooms, abolished rules for gender-specific swimwear in an effort to create an inclusive and gender-neutral atmosphere for all students. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson.

Akurskóli, an elementary school in the Reykjanesbær municipality in the Reykjanes peninsula, has opted to remove gendered signs from its restrooms to create an inclusive atmosphere and accommodate children who attend the school who are gender-fluid or transgender. The school has also abolished rules requiring gender specific swimwear during swimming lessons. The principal of the school says that the school has only received positive responses from parents. The children think it is no big deal.

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Sigurbjörg Róbertsdóttir, the principal of Akurskóli told the local news site gayiceland.is that it made no sense to have specifically assigned bathrooms since the school has no bathroom stalls, only has individual restrooms.

“Seeing that we don’t have the typical large booth-setup in our school. The restrooms are more like the ones you would find at home. So there’s no need to have them signed to specific genders. Now everybody can just choose either one.”

The school also sent out a memo instructing parents children should simply wear appropriate swim-attire, removing the stipulation that girls should wear swimsuits and boys should wear swim trunks. “We don’t see anything wrong with girls wearing trunks at the swimming pool, if they want to, or boys wearing a swimsuit. The kids can simply choose which one to use,” Sigurbjörg tells gayiceland.is.

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The goal is to ensure the school is gender neutral, and does not force children to choose one of two binary genders. Sigurbjörg tells gayiceland.is that “it is not up to us, the school, to force them into a pre-designed form.” Both parents and students have been very positive toward the changes.

“Children are way more tolerant then we give them credit for. When they grow up with different kinds of people they learn to recognize and accept things. I think the kids use whatever bathroom they find convenient and don’t give it much thought at all.”

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