Gender Neutral Toilets
Our announcement to introduce gender-neutral toilets in the main school this summer has understandably been the cause of some considerable interest for both our students and parents. Given this, it is right that we should offer further clarification of our plans.
This is a much-needed initiative for our school; not only are our present students’ toilets in the main school block in desperate need of modernising, given these facilities are pre-war design, they are no longer fit for purpose. They fail on so many counts to meet the needs of all of our students including our transgender and non-binary students.
Students can be forgiven for thinking we merely intend to re-label our present toilets as gender-neutral; this is most certainly not the case because they are not fit for such purpose. We intend to completely redesign them with some comprehensive building work and refurbish them.
We all have gender-neutral toilets at home and consequently we are all very familiar with them. In a school, they work by offering a student a private space. The cubicle is fully enclosed from floor to ceiling and the door affords no visual gaps around the edges. This is what we introduced in the post 16 centre and these are not seen as anything unusual.
Some cubicles will include wash hand basins, but other basins will be communal. Our cubicles will contain everything our students require for their personal hygiene and we will include a small mirror on the back of the door so, for example, a girl might adjust her hijab in private. We also aim to assign cleaners to keep these toilets in first class condition after every break and lunch time.
As school leaders, we have always been concerned that our present washrooms are in secluded areas of the school and not readily supervised by staff. Duty staff may not always be of the right gender and cannot readily enter our washroom areas to check if all is well. We know the seclusion of our washrooms put some students off using our toilets. Consequently, a key feature of a gender-neutral washroom is that they are in open and highly visible spaces where students and staff walk past them on a regular basis.
Whilst we believe these new toilets and washrooms will be readily accepted by our students, parents should also be assured that we will still retain separate boys and girls toilets in other areas of the school in order to continue to accommodate the preferences of all; this is a case of evolution rather than revolution.
For your interest, we have compiled two short videos to give you a clear idea of the nature of the change we intend to make.
Shortly we also intend to take our detailed plans to our student council in order to take their views.