In yesterday's Times, an irate mother wrote about how her daughter's school switched to gender-neutral toilets, with no alternative. After weeks of banging heads against brick walls, her daughter started a petition, and won a reversal of school policy. Good for her, but how many others are doing this?
I've written to The Times as follows:
Re: your article about a school that introduced so-called gender-neutral toilets, the mother was right to complain. Perhaps you could point out that UNESCO has urged governments to ensure that single-sex toilets are available. They're concerned at the number of girls who miss school during their period, due to embarrassment and for practical reasons. What's true for co-educational schools in developing countries is also true for schools here in the UK, and if you care to investigate you'll find that in the US and Canada, where gender-neutral facilities are all the rage, incidents of voyeurism have increased dramatically.
UNESCO's GLOBAL EDUCATION MONITORING REPORT GENDER REVIEW 2018 includes a reference to girls' disadvantages in education, including the fact that many will miss school during their periods. See pages 33-34.
Last year Dr Javid Abdelmoneim made a BBC TV programme in a primary school, where he made a lot of progress in changing expectations about boys and girls' aptitudes and abilities, but the one thing that the girls rejected, after trying it for a short time, was sharing their toilets. The boys were "smelly", they said, and they wanted to go back to single-sex toilets - so they did.
Elsewhere on the internet I've read stories about gender-neutral toilets that demonstrated what a bad idea they are..
- Girls have been restricting their water intake to avoid having to use the toilet in school, risking severe health problems, not just because the toilets were gender-neutral but because they were dirty and smelly.
- Women found that the toilets in a London pub had become gender-neutral. It was especially bad on Friday and Saturday nights, when many of the men were drunk. Some had moved the used sanitary towel bins so that the women had to walk past a row of jeering men to get to them. The pub was soon boycotted by all but a few women.
- Men have been found guilty of filming women using the toilet, either by installing hidden cameras or holding their phones over or under toilet doors.
I'm alright. I'm disabled, so I can locked the door and keep everyone out, but if I had a daughter I'd be worried too.