Glasgow primary schools to have gender neutral toilets

Local authority says unisex toilets help to reduce bullying, improve behaviour and save money

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 07 March 2017 12:36 GMT
Gender neutral toilets are already commonplace in Scandinavian countries and are becoming increasingly common in the UK
Gender neutral toilets are already commonplace in Scandinavian countries and are becoming increasingly common in the UK (Corbis)

All new primary schools in Glasgow are to have gender-neutral toilets, the city council has announced, in order to help children struggling with gender identity issues.

Three schools currently under construction in Glasgow will label their bathrooms as “unisex”, marking a precedent for all new primary schools that follow.

Glasgow City Council claims the policy will help combat bullying and antisocial behaviour, as well as being more cost-effective.

Some parents have questioned the move, however, arguing the genderless bathrooms could intrude on their children’s privacy.

The initiative has already been implemented in Hillhead primary school, an oversubscribed school in the city, where six unisex toilets have replaced boys’ and girls’ bathrooms.

Defending the policy, David McEwan, estate programme manager for the authority’s education services, said: “Bullying is reduced, behaviour is improved, no graffiti, no soggy bombs on the ceilings.

“It also assists in the LGBT agenda,” he added, “because if we have children even in primary school who are confused about their gender and worry, 'Do I go to the girl's toilet or the boy's toilet?' – well, it doesn't matter.

”It saves a lot of space. New schools cost £3,000 per square metre so we need to make sure we are getting absolute bang for our buck.“

A spokesman added that individual toilets would also be created in case the policy proved problematic.

Local councillor Malcolm Balfour said parents in Blairdardie had already approached him with “serious concerns”, however.

”In Scandinavian countries they do this quite successfully but this is the first primary school in Glasgow,” he said.

“I can see that it teaches kids it doesn't matter what their gender is. A girl who feels trapped in a boy's body and a boy who feels trapped in a girl's body might feel embarrassed to be going into the 'wrong' toilets.

”But girls mature more quickly than boys and they start to develop towards the end of primary school and they need their privacy.

Parents feel they should have been consulted first.”

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