News that a high school was planning to replace boys’ and girls’ loos with gender neutral facilities has divided opinion.
Shelley College has announced the proposals to create open plan toilets with closed cubicles for boys and girls, saying it makes toilets easier to monitor and safer for pupils.
But while some argue the idea could prevent bullying in school toilets, others said the open plan idea would leave pupils feeling uncomfortable.
Katy Boyfield, a transgender woman who has a daughter that may one day attend the school, said she was against the idea as it could lead to pupils feeling “distressed”.
Katy said: “Unfortunately concepts such as gender neutral toilets and the safety felt within these facilities are only brought to question by a tiny minority, but this must be addressed we cannot have, and I certainly don’t think we want CCTV within any toilet facilities, but this does make them an ideal place for allegations to occur.”
Jenny Oldroyd wrote on Facebook to say the idea could cut bullying: “The toilets themselves are in cubicles and enclosed. And anyone worrying about girls going into toilets with boys in because they are scared has never seen how much girl on girl bullying that goes on, especially in the loos.
“The boys being there too might actually cut that down. I can’t speak for boy on boy bullying in the loos, but that might well reduce as well.”
Protests to the unisex toilets included concerns over hygiene and the social stigma over periods.
Nic Jones said: “You have to feel sorry for the girls, anyone who has been in gents toilets will know what disgusting creatures boys are.”
Angela Beaumont said: “I hate this idea. Kids are already self conscious as it is”, while Ann Ross added: It’s bad enough for menstruating young girls, without having boys just outside the cubicle whilst they are changing and disposing of sanitary products.”
An email sent to parents from Shelley College on Wednesday said: “A small number of parents have expressed concerns regarding the development of our toilet facilities, therefore we would like to offer re-assurance that toilet cubicles will be fully enclosed, floor to ceiling with no gaps in between the doors.
“There will be no boys’ urinals, only the sink areas are open plan.”