On average, each secondary school in canton Vaud has one or two transgender students, who may not feel at ease in conventional toilets.
“It is not at all trivial, especially at this period of life, when gender identity is forged,” Lionel Eperon, director general of post-compulsory education in the canton, told the 20 Minutes news site.
Unlike Bern authorities, who had recently decided to encourage the creation of gender-neutral facilities in schools, no guidelines have yet been established in Vaud. “A working group will look into the matter in the coming months as part of the construction of two gymnasiums, in Aigle and Echallens,” Eperon said.
“Our role is to ensure a school without discrimination”, he added.
Authorities still have to decide whether to continue with the traditional model – separate toilets for boys and girls – or build gender-neutral facilities.
If the latter option is chosen, bathrooms in all existing schools would have to be modified accordingly “for the sake of consistency and equality” Eperon noted.
Advocates for the LGBTIQ community welcomed the possibility of transgender bathrooms, but noted that flexibility is the key to the project's success.
“Depending on its needs, each school should be able to choose which inclusive solution it prefers,” said Mehdi Künzle, president of VoGay, a Vaud association defending sexual and gender diversity.
“We must not impose a single model – it is by being flexible and attentive that we build true inclusion,” he added.
Like many of its European neighbours, Switzerland has in some ways strengthened transgender rights.
For instance, last year, the Swiss army announced that it may start accepting transgender recruits.