source : BBC News
Pupils were shocked to discover they had to share the ‘gender neutral’ toilets at the start of the school year, sparking concerns from parents.
Many say their children do not want to use facilities split with the opposite sex and it makes them feel ‘uncomfortable’.
Harbour Primary School in Newhaven, East Sussex, has defended the move, which it says is about ‘preventing transphobia’.
There are around 500 pupils at the school for three to 11-year-olds.
One concerned mother said her seven-year-old does not feel ‘comfortable’ using the toilets.
She said: “I know of several parents who have raised complaints and they have now invited us to a meeting about transgender equality.
“This was just introduced from the start of term and no one told us before. There are seven-year-old girls using the same toilets as 11-year-old boys.
“My daughter has said she doesn’t feel comfortable about it. Although we are all up for equality we feel this is not allowing our children to choose.
“A lot of our children don’t want to use toilets of the opposite sex.”
Headteacher Christine Terrey said the decision to include single sex toilets in their new building had been taken by East Sussex County Council.
She has invited parents to a meeting on ‘transphobia’, which will include a discussion about the toilets.
Mrs Terrey said: “The toilets are all in cubicles and they all lock. We just want all our children to be able to use the toilets.
“We no longer have urinals because they were quite unpopular with the boys.”
And a letter to parents said: “We want all the children in our school to feel safe and be happy.
“We also want our families to feel informed about how to effectively support transgender and gender questioning by their children, preventing any transphobia at the school.”
East Sussex County Council said it chose to install unisex toilets because they are better for ‘hygiene, maintenance and pupil behaviour’.
A spokesman said: “As part of the rebuilding work a decision was taken to install toilets which could be used by boys or girls, with lockable cubicles.
“Unisex toilet blocks are considered preferable in terms of hygiene, maintenance and pupil behaviour.
“We feel this kind of toilet block, which complies with all national guidelines, is an appropriate solution for children of primary school age.
“We are not aware of any cases of children being reluctant to use the new toilets.
“On the contrary, the feedback we have received from the vast majority of parents, children and staff has been overwhelmingly positive.
“As an authority we feel it’s important to provide a safe, welcoming environment in our schools for all pupils.”
One father, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I am disappointed that we were not consulted.
“I understand the rationale for doing it but I am disappointed with how the changes have happened.”
Marcus Clark, 36, and Greta Clark, 33, said their two children do not mind sharing.
Mrs Clark, from Newhaven, East Sussex, said: “If it doesn’t bother the kids, it doesn’t bother us. For anyone below 11, it isn’t an issue.”
Mr Clark added: “I think it’s more than reasonable for kids to share. It’s change isn’t it? Some people don’t like it but we are OK with it.”