Ottawa, Canada: With active support from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that will make the country’s national anthem gender-neutral. The legislation, which was introduced in 2016 by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, will change the O Canada lyric “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”
The bill had earlier passed the Commons in 2016 and MP Mauril Bélanger who introduced it died two months later.
On Wednesday night, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the bill’s passage via Twitter.
“Mauril’s bill to make O Canada gender neutral passed third reading in the Senate tonight – another positive step towards gender equality,” Trudeau wrote.
There have been 12 bills introduced in the Canadian legislature to make the change since 1980, but all attempts failed until Wednesday’s vote, the CBC reported.
“I’m very, very happy. There’s been 30 years plus of activity trying to make our national anthem, this important thing about our country, inclusive of all of us,” said Independent Ontario Sen. Frances Lankin,a sponsor of the bill. “This may be small, it’s about two words, but it’s huge … we can now sing it with pride knowing the law will support us in terms of the language. I’m proud to be part of the group that made this happen.”
“Changing only two words…gives Canada an inclusive anthem that respects who we were and what we have become as a country,” Bélanger said when he introduced his bill to the House in 2016. “As Canadians, we continually test our assumptions, and indeed our symbols. Our anthem can reflect our roots and our growth.”
Although the bill had support from liberals and independents, some conservatives said any changes to the national anthem should be put to a referendum.
“This is an issue for the Canadian public to decide not just a couple of Independent senators,” Conservative Sen. Don Plett said.
EARLIER: New York, USA: NewYork Subway Replaces ‘LadiesAndGentlemen’ With “Riders” GenderNeutral Announcements – Passengers on New York’s subway and buses will now hear terms such as “passengers,”“everyone,” and “riders” in announcements and pre-recorded messages. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority MTA spokesperson Jon Weinstein said the agency is replacing all “ladies and gentleman” references in its announcements with gender-neutral phrases.
“We’re fundamentally changing the way we talk with riders to give them better and clearer information,” MTA spokesperson Jon Weinstein told reporters.
The new policy was outlined in a 9-page memo circulated among employees this week, in which the MTA urged: “Please don’t use any greeting other than these.”
The agency will also start to have its conductors remind passengers of special dates, such as Veterans Day, when they would ask passengers to thank a veteran. In some cases, conductors will also point out landmarks.
Transport for London made a similar change in July, when it started phasing out the use of “ladies and gentlemen,” following strong LGBT campaigning.
The politically correct change has been met with mixed reaction, though. For some, the move is too much, for others, a welcome and inclusive measure. Many also feel the MTA should focus on other, more essential improvements.
‘Ladies & gentlemen’ scrapped to make London Tube announcements gender neutral
London transport workers were told in july to stop using the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” in announcements as part of a city-wide push to become more gender-neutral.
The order follows months of campaigning by LGBTQ activists, who appealed to London Mayor Sadiq Khan to change the language used by train and bus drivers, which they described as “polite but really belonging to yesterday,”
The Transport for London (TfL) rule book used to state: “When using the Public Address (PA) system, you must start all service information announcements with ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ except for routine announcements such as ‘mind the gap’ and ‘stand clear of the doors.’”
Now staff will use terms such as “good morning everyone.” All new pre-recorded announcements are also set to be changed to new phrases.
TfL’s customer strategy boss, Mark Evers, said they want “everyone to feel welcome on our transport network,” adding “we have reviewed the language that we use in announcements and elsewhere and will make sure that it is fully inclusive, reflecting the great diversity of London.”
The move comes after Green Party equalities spokesperson Aimee Challenor was left “humiliated” after she was told she “didn’t sound like a Miss” during a telephone call to TfL’s Oyster helpline.
Unisex toilets planned for Glasgow, Scotland primary schools to support LGBT pupils
Also in March this year, primary schools across Glasgow introduced unisex toilets to tackle bullying and support children “confused about their gender identity,” the local council announced.
Under new plans, toilets will no longer be labelled ‘girls’ and ‘boys’, but will instead be labelled ‘unisex’ to tackle anti-social behavior and make LGBT students feel more at ease.
A council spokeswoman was cited on STV as saying: “The toilets in the new builds are a row of individual toilets that can be used by all, and research from other local authorities shows that it can help improve behavior and reduce bullying and vandalism.”
Hillhead Primary School, in the west end of the city, is the first to have implemented the plans with six blocks of ‘floor to ceiling’ toilets for both boys and girls.
David McEwan, the council’s estate program manager for education services, said: “Bullying is reduced, behavior is improved, no graffiti, no soggy bombs on the ceilings.
“It also assists in the LGBT agenda because if we have children even in primary school who are confused about their gender and worry, ‘Do I go to the girls’ toilet or the boys’ toilet?’ well, it doesn’t matter,” McEwan said, according to the Independent.
“It saves a lot of space. New schools cost £3,000 [US$3,660] a square meter so we need to make sure we are getting absolute bang for our buck.”
Although the council claims parents and pupils have been consulted on the plans, the announcement of gender-neutral bathrooms has sparked protests among some parents concerned that they could infringe on pupils’ privacy.
Malcolm Balfour, SNP councilor for Drumchapel and Anniesland, said parents had contacted him with “serious concerns.”
While acknowledging that unisex toilets support LGBT pupils, Balfour claimed that they might be problematic in some cases as they undermine privacy.
“I can see that it teaches kids it doesn’t matter what their gender is.
“A girl who feels trapped in a boy’s body and a boy who feels trapped in a girl’s body might feel embarrassed to be going into the ‘wrong’ toilets,” Balfour admitted, as reported on the Independent.
“But girls mature more quickly than boys and they start to develop towards the end of primary school and they need their privacy.”
McEwan defended the plans, however, saying that the toilets would be fully enclosed and bathrooms would only share a row of sinks.
A fully accessible facility will also be built away from the unisex ones in case any issues arise or if someone feels uncomfortable using unisex bathrooms.
In November a school in Leytonstone, east London, announced that it would introduce unisex toilets for pupils over the age of eight.
Buxton School’s head teacher Kath Wheeler welcomed the initiative despite a petition against it being signed by 700 people.
According to the East London and West Essex Guardian, Wheeler said the full-height toilets, which were fully in line with the Department of Education and Waltham Forest Council regulations, would encourage respect among pupils.
Parents though were concerned the new initiative would instead lead to premature sexualization and sexual abuse.
On petition site Change.org, one parent described unisex toilets as “totally disgusting” and said: “There’s already so much child abuse going on and this will increase the situation even more.
“If anything does happen then the headteacher and other associates will be fully responsible. Totally disgusting.”