Unisex toilets have been adopted by a number of schools in Scotland. This happened several years ago. The toilets are not fully accepted throughout Scotland, however. For example, the Glasgow City Council recently got caught up in the controversy. The council has decided to fit unisex toilets to three new primaries in the city despite strong opposition from some parents.
One Teacher Explains His Thoughts
Head teacher, John Devine, who oversees Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy, Perth, and Kinross says that most young people have a degree of anxiety about going to the toilet at school. He said, “I think if you add to that fear that there might be a group in there who are up to no good, that increases the anxiety level.”
His schools offer a much different layout for the toilets in the secondary school on the campus. Instead of traditional boys and girls toilets with partially enclosed cubicles in a closed off space, the academy uses full-enclosed cubicles that open into a public wash basin area. However, the bathrooms are not totally unisex as the cubicles are labeled male and female while the wash basin area is mixed.
Devine said these toilets are a big improvement compared to other schools where he has taught. He said there is no vandalism and one less space where pupils can be bullied. If a parent is given a tour of the school Devine says they are shown the toilets and their design has proved uncontroversial. He added, “It’s not an issue here I’ve never had a concern about it expressed to me.”
Another head teacher, John Peckham, working in a school near Manchester, said that cubicles opening into a public wash basin area prevent bullying, vandalism and smoking.
There have been many critics of the toilets in the UK. Parents have expressed concern that young people might be too embarrassed to use unisex toilets. Others said the cubicles could be used for sexual liaisons between pupils.
LGBT groups say it is important that gender stereotypes are not imposed on children primary or secondary schools. They say unisex toilets can help with this. Cara Spence from the LGBT Youth Scotland said, “Transgender children and young people in particular tell us that they can feel uncomfortable using school toilets as they worry about being bullied or they are forced to use a toilet that doesn’t fit with their identity.”