Iceland primary school introduces gender-neutral toilets

Students are also not told what type swimming gear they must wear

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The Independent Online

An Icelandic primary school has removed gender signs from its toilets so as not to "force anybody into a pre-designed form."

The headteacher of Akurskóli school said the children just choose which of two bathrooms to visit and advised other schools to think about doing the same.

Sigurbjörg Róbertsdóttir said the policy would be helpful to transgender pupils at the school.

"One simply has to be conscious about the fact that we are not all the same and everybody has the right to be as they are; that everybody should be able to be themselves," she told GayIceland.

"And since there are currently children attending the school who are gender-fluid or trans, it's not up to us, the school, to force them or anybody else into a pre-designed form."

She said the new arrangement made school no different to home, where people of all genders share the same bathroom without distinction.

The school's stance is one of a raft of measures aimed at phasing out dividing the children up by gender.

Swimming lessons also do not require students to wear a particular outfit - trunks for boys and suits for girls - and boys and girls are not separated for games either.

Instead of earlier phrasing requiring that "girls should wear swimsuits and boys wear swim trunks", letters home to parents from Akurskóli school simply require that children where appropriate swimwear.

"We don't see anything wrong with girls wearing trunks at the swiming pool, or boys wearing a swimsuit," Ms Róbertsdóttir told GayIceland.

"The kids can simply choose which one to use."

Iceland is rated one of the happiest countries in the world, according to the World Happiness Index 2015, with a history of leading gender equality level.

The country is not the first to have educational institutions implement gender-neutral toilets as traditional understandings of men and women are challenged in popular culture.

A British school in East Sussex was criticised by parents after it introduced unisex toilets to help prevent "transphobia", the Daily Telegraph reported.

Meanwhile, the Boarding Schools' Association was called on to introduce gender neutral uniform as prevention against LGBT bullying in May last year.