A primary school in east London is facing backlash from parents after placing unisex toilets in its new £12m building.
At Buxton School in Leytonstone, new gender-neutral bathrooms for children in Years One and above have been introduced by headteacher Kath Wheeler.
Ms Wheeler told the Guardian that the bathrooms, which will be at full-height for privacy, will create a safe space for pupils to be respectful towards each other, and feel respected in return.
Parents feel that the opposite will happen, with many expressing concerns that they pose a potential risk to their child’s health and safety, as well as premature sexualisation.
A petition on Change.org has reached nearly a thousand signatures from parents protesting against the new toilets, many of whom have no connections to the school.
‘These unisex toilets in an adult environment may well be acceptable, but these are children who are growing in to their adult body’s can you really take this potential emotional physical risk?’ commented one petitioner.
‘This is a terrible idea. I started my periods in year 6 and was already embarrassed enough dealing with it at school. I would have been mortified at the thought of boys seeing me take sanitary items into the toilet or hearing me change them!’ said another.
Other comments included: ‘Unisex toilets will just lead to children becoming sexually aware at a tender age, when they should be learning about other things.’
‘This is a terrible idea and has many potential risk to unisex toilets. I am very upset that the school did not even have the decency to consult with the parents of the children, this came as a shock when I was informed by a mother.
‘I would like to know who would be held responsible should there be an incident?’
The author of the petition has detailed their aims
Other parents have said that they support the unisex bathrooms, hoping that it’s a step in the direction of dismantling gender constrictions.
‘Everyone should be able to use the toilet in peace whether in unisex or single sex toilets. Hopefully the kids will be taught to be respectful of each other, whether in the toilets or not,’ one parent commented.
Ms Wheeler has invited parents to see the new bathrooms, and has asked parents to email the school if they have any complaints.
Do you think unisex toilets for children are a terrible idea – or do you think they’re a positive move? Let us know in the comments!