Township staffer talks diversity, inclusion and gender neutrality

·2 min read

There was some discussion at a recent council meeting about Dysart et al potentially implementing some new “diversity and inclusion” measures in the future. Andrea Mueller, Dysart’s recreation coordinator, filled council in on the numerous training sessions she has participated in over the past year focusing on the importance of creating an open and accepting environment for all community residents. “In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about diversity, inclusion and accessibility,” Mueller told council. “The trend right now is to further promote diversity and inclusion, and to take away gender options altogether, or have more than ‘male or female’ options for people to choose from.” Mueller said some other terminology to consider adopting across community programs, and on municipal documentation could include ‘non-binary’, or ‘prefer not to say’. She also brought up the idea of Dysart including gender-neutral washrooms in any new municipal builds in the future. Mayor Andrea Roberts pointed out there are gender-neutral washrooms included in the new downtown visitor centre, slated to open this summer. The training has been provided to interested parties free of charge by the Canadian LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “The idea here is just trying to be more forward thinking and inclusive,” Mueller stated. “These sessions have opened my eyes to so many things that I even fell fault to, that I wasn’t really aware of. Now I want to be more aware, and help create that inclusivity.” Despite that, Mueller admitted there can be difficulties. During one of the sessions, she explained how she had been given a scenario that would likely be a “tricky” one to resolve. “We were told if somebody was complaining that there’s a man in a women’s washroom, but then you go in and [discover] it’s somebody who maybe looks like a man, but is using the washroom as a woman, you should let it go and don’t draw attention to the situation,” Mueller said. “It’s a tricky one,” she admitted. Council elected to simply receive Mueller’s presentation for information purposes, meaning there would be no immediate changes forthcoming.

Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo