The University of Sussex is hoping to become the first university in the country to have gender neutral toilets throughout campus. Alongside male and female facilities, they hope to build toilets that are non-gender assigned and can be used by anyone.
Located in Brighton, the university has a strong LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer) voice, so it is no surprise that they are targeting an issue of this nature.
As explained by Imogen Adie, communications officer for the Sussex's student union, trans people are “people who identify differently from the gender they were assigned at birth.” The union is arguing that by having only male and female toilets, they are asking trans students and staff to make a choice about their gender, which can be a painful decision to make.
“We already have a few on campus but we want to work to increase their availability," Imogen added. "This is a part of a wider campaign we’re working on which is aimed to create a more supportive, safe and welcoming environment for trans students at Sussex.”
One second-year international development student said, “I think these new toilets are a great idea. It emphasises equality on campus which is reflected in the general ethos of the university.”
The SU is hoping either to build new toilets, or make the current disabled loos gender neutral.
“It’s very simple to create toilets on campus. All it requires is a change of signage; an inexpensive and simple change,” said Imogen.
The student union is asking the opinions of disabled students how they would feel about this change. So far all of the responses have been in favour of the latter proposal. However, one third-year biology student wasn’t quite so sure: “I thought the disabled loos were gender neutral anyway! I don’t really see the point in all of this; it feels like they’re just ticking a box.”
The university is now involved in official discussions on the matter.