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Schools introduce gender neutral toilets

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By Amanda Kennedy
Annan and Eskdale
Schools introduce gender neutral toilets

A MOVE to include gender neutral toilets in all new schools has seen Dumfries and Galloway Council praised by the region’s LGBT community.

Dalbeattie Learning Campus, which opened in 2017, already boasts neutral toilets, with no male or female signposts, and the new North West Community Campus and refurbished St Joseph’s College will be the same.

Meanwhile Lockerbie Academy, which opened in 2010, has converted one of its female toilets into pupil toilets, comprising of individual cubicles but no urinals.

But Lockerbie head teacher Brian Asher says the move is not breaking the mould or pioneering – just a necessary step for inclusive learning spaces.

He said: “These are bathrooms that no one is prevented from using, an accepting place inside an inclusive school.

“It’s quite common now for places to transform a disabled toilet into an inclusive toilet, but I don’t like that message.

“Gender dysphoria is not a disability and shouldn’t be treated like one, that’s why the decision to turn a full bathroom into pupil toilets was made.”

And, Leo Juniper Barrett of Dumfries, who identifies as a non binary person, has praised the council’s move to include genderless toilets in education centres.

Leo said: “Most people take for granted the fact of having a safe place to pee when you leave the house, yet for trans and gender non confirming people (TGNC) this is another place where we are reminded how unsafe we are, and that the world is not built to accommodate us.

“Having to choose from two options, and in both we might be perceived as not belonging, and therefore face verbal abuse or violence, is a stress which impacts TGNC people’s health in more ways than one.”

Leo added: “I am delighted to see the region’s schools take a progressive step on this matter to make our young people’s experience at school safer and more affirming.”

And LGBT+ representative Michael Gowan added: “I personally think that gender neutral toilets are a great idea and an easy way to help transgender students feel more at ease in schools.

“It prevents any discrimination trans young people might face, recognises and provides a space for non binary youths, and helps stop discrimination or misgendering in an education setting.”

He added: “When you consider that in LGBT Youth Scotland’s education report, 76.9 per cent of trans young people said they had faced bullying in schools because of their LGBT identity, there is a clear need for action to make our schools a safer place for trans youths. Gender neutral toilets won’t change this overnight, but it’s an excellent first step.”

Since this story went to print, we asked our readers for their opinion on gender neutral toilets in schools. See next week’s Dumfries Courier, Annandale Herald and Annandale Observer for a follow up.

Want to share your opinion? Contact Amanda at ajk@dngonline.co.uk or newsdesk@dngonline.co.uk

 

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