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Unisex toilets in primary schools are politically-correct and dangerous

Unisex toilets in primary schools are politically-correct and dangerous
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Forcing unisex toilets on primary schools is misguided, unethical, and dangerous to children’s welfare.

We don’t know why Deansfield Primary School decided to change every toilet in the school to unisex. What we do know is that their disproportionate and expensive response, delivered without consultation with the parents, has created a new problem: children are afraid to use poorly-designed toilets.

If this were a one-off, isolated incident then I’d be prepared to chalk it up to poor judgment. But it isn’t. This kind of thing is happening across the Western world. It’s not even the only unisex bathroom story I’ve seen in the UK today, there’s a similar one about students at Sheffield University, and just a few days ago it was the Old Vic Theatre. The week before, with a typical politically-correct penchant for hyperbole, Plymouth University called such toilets ‘life-saving’.

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Body-consciousness is important to primary school children, and rightly so. We teach them that because we want to make sure that they’re safe from would-be abusers. Having taught them about the importance of privacy, what an incredible mixed signal we send if we deny them that privacy, and require boys and girls to share toilet facilities.

Any teacher is (rightly) concerned about entering toilets. It’s the one place in a school where a teacher is naturally inclined to stay away, a place where children have the most privacy away from teachers. Consequently, it’s also a place where standards of behaviour can slip. Pupils feel they can get away with more, away from the eyes of teachers.

The added problem in this case is that the cubicles in this case don’t actually provide privacy, allowing children to look over and/or under doors, no wonder some children are refusing to use the toilets at school, and imagine the other health issues that could occur as a result.

There is no reasonable means of protest. Girls concerned about being victims of what we would (as adults) describe as voyeurism, even if the intent is not there by that age, can’t go elsewhere. They have no choice.

There’s a distinction between fault and responsibility, if a serious incident occurs against one of the girls at that school, it will be entirely the fault of the person who commits it. Yet, the school has a responsibility to protect its children, and it is failing in that basic duty of care.

Now let’s be charitable. Let’s suppose that the school had a sensible reason for wanting to make a change. Perhaps a child was being bullied for being or looking ‘different’ to their classmates. In such situations, there are so many easier ways of dealing with it.

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Having a toilet which anybody is allowed to use would resolve the issue. When a problem presents itself, the appropriate response is to make the simplest, least intrusive change. It avoids causing disruption, and (in a time of overstretched school budgets) it’s cheaper. Instead, they’ve created a much bigger consequence, children who no longer feel safe to go to the toilet at school.

Hardly anyone ever tries to define political correctness, like the famous ‘elephant test,’ you know it when you see it. The outcome is pretty much the same though, a desire to make a disproportionate, unnecessary change to the majority in order to deal with an annoyance, whether real or imagined, to a minority.

We can safely say that this school’s actions put political correctness over the needs of children. What a damning indictment of society when this has become the new normal!

By Jonathan Arnott, a former independent Member of the European Parliament

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.