Schools’ unisex toilet debate
PARENTS’ fears that unisex toilets in senior schools in North Somerset could lead to problems among teenagers are unfounded, according to staff.
The introduction of the new-style loos at Gordano School this year has caused concern among parents, but headteacher Gary Lewis says he has not received any complaints from pupils and there are alternative, single sex toilets available if children prefer to use them.
The mother of a teenage girl from Portishead, who did not want to be named, said: “This raises all sorts of worrying scenarios. Teenage girls need their privacy and my daughter feels very shy about sharing the same toilet areas as boys.”
Another parent said: “It seems strange to me that schools should want to throw boys and girls into a shared environment in this way.”
The Government introduced guidelines in 2007 suggesting unisex toilets are a way to reduce antisocial behaviour in schools, after old style toilets were highlighted as being trouble spots for bullying and smoking.
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Clevedon and Nailsea schools have unisex toilets in operation and both report they work well. David Bishop, operations manager at Clevedon School, said pupils accepted the introduction of the unisex toilets more than two years ago, they are well used and they have not experienced any problems.
Chris Perry, operations manager at Nailsea School, said a recent survey on building design conducted among pupils and staff, included a section on the modern toilets.
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When asked to respond to the statement ‘unisex toilets are effective and work well’, 52 per cent of people strongly agreed or agreed with the statement and only 13 per cent were against them.