GEGI Step One

Important definitions

Gender expression and gender identity are protected grounds in Ontario’s Human Rights Code, a law that protects people from discrimination in public settings because of who they are. Gender expression and gender identity are the two newest grounds, and were added by Toby’s Act in 2012 after many years of activism by transgender people and allies.

Because these protections are so new, Ontario institutions like K-12 schools are learning about changes required by the new legal duty to prevent gender expression and gender identity discrimination. The research team behind has discovered that gender expression is very often left out when Human Rights Code grounds are listed in school board policy documents, and that gender expression and gender identity – which are separate grounds in Ontario law as well as separate concepts – are frequently squished into one incorrect phrase: “gender and gender expression.”

Policy documents guide school staff on how to prevent discrimination, and these errors can mean that schools are unsure of what needs to change. While lots of good work is happening, there is much more to do. This is why Gegi exists in the world.

To advocate for our rights at school, we need to get clear what these terms mean! These are separate things and happen differently to different people.

You can choose the sparkly version (in Gegi’s voice, kid-friendly with lots of examples, chatty tone, assumes little/no law and policy knowledge) or the serious version (technical tone, assumes an adult reader with some law and policy knowledge).

Gegi can also read you the sparkly version if you like!

Gender Expression

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Gender Identity

Gender-Based Discrimination

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Learn more

For eager souls

The addition of gender expression and gender identity protected grounds in the Ontario Human Rights Code means that people who have a gender identity different from their assigned sex at birth, or whose gender expression is gender non-conforming may not be discriminated against in publicly mandated areas of social life. This includes schools, and covers students as well as staff members. You can learn more in the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression (2014).

Find Policies

Your school is one of many within a school district. The district’s school board is the boss, and gives schools instructions for what should happen in different situations. These instructions are in documents called policies. Your school board might already have a policy about your situation.

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Ready to find out what policies address your problems?