Parents in Scotland worried by gender neutral toilets in primary schools

A gender-neutral bathroom is seen at the University of California, Irvine in Irvine, California, September 30, 2014.(Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

A councillor in East Renfrewshire, Scotland, says parents have reached out to him since the start of the school term to voice concerns over newly installed gender neutral toilets at local primary schools.

Independent councillor David Macdonald said he has been contacted by numerous parents since schools opened for the new term last week, the Herald Scotland reports

According to the newspaper, he has written a letter to East Renfrewshire Council outlining concerns about the toilets installed during the summer break at Carolside and Braidbar Primary Schools. 

The councillor, who said he had not been informed by the council of the plans, said some parents had been left 'worried, angry and upset' by the development and that it was a particular concern for parents of girls approaching puberty having to deal with menstruation for the first time. 

'On top of that. Let's be frank here. Boys urinate on toilet seats whether by accident or on purpose,' he wrote.

'Are girls expected to enter a cubicle and be charged with having to wipe down a toilet seat with toilet paper to get rid of the urine and then be forced to make direct skin contact with the toilet seat when they sit down? I can't imagine how incredibly unsanitary that situation will be, not to mention absolutely disgusting.'

The new facilities at Carolside and Braidbar Primary Schools reportedly include floor-to-ceiling cubicles as a replacement for boys' urinals.  There are, however, still separate male and female toilet blocks available within the schools.

According to the Scottish Sun newspaper, local parents say they were not consulted over the installation of the toilets. 

Opinions on Cllr Macdonald's Facebook page have been mixed. One person wrote: 'What a farce. Not often this phrase is justified but it is here. "Political Correctness gone mad".'

Others expressed their support, with one saying: 'Do you have gender specific toilets in your home David? There's gender neutral toilets everywhere and it's literally fine.'

 According to the Herald Scotland, East Renfrewshire Council said the changes were in response to Scottish Government guidance.

A spokesman said: 'In line with guidance from the Scottish Government, to allow gender-neutral provision in our schools, where possible, future replacement toilets will now provide individual cubicles for pupils to use, giving complete privacy, with shared hand washing and drying facilities.

'Due to the fully enclosed cubicles, access to the toilets will no longer require a main door which has benefits including significantly reducing the likelihood of inappropriate behaviour in school toilets, increasing levels of privacy and creating safer spaces for children and young people to use.

"Individual schools will work with parents to establish the most appropriate way to operate these facilities, which are already commonplace in all new-build facilities.'