Primary school backlash after parents complain over gender-neutral toilets

By Nisha Mal

A primary school was forced into a u-turn after dozens of parents complained about a decision to make the toilets gender neutral.

The row broke out at Moredon Primary School in Wiltshire, after it introduced a new gender-neutral toileting policy, which saw its shared bathrooms open to all pupils regardless of gender.

The toilets were not modified in any way, meaning urinals remained in use in the boy's toilets despite girls being allowed in.

But the decision that was made without warning or consultation was met with anger by several parents who have now forced the school into a swift U-turn.

Talking to Wiltshire Today, one mother, who did not wish to be named, criticised the move and was concerned that it could 'normalise' the use of toilets with people other the other sex.

She said: "It makes kids think it's normal to be sharing toilets with other sexes but when you go out, you can't do that.

"It's not like Asda or McDonald's have gender-free toilets so why do the school think it's acceptable."

Another parent added: "It's almost like they are pushing liberal views on the kids, especially when the kids start asking why they are gender-free and the teachers explain about some kids wanting to be the other sex.

"What happens then, they start thinking 'am I actually a girl' or whatever? It's stupid, just leave things alone so kids can be kids and enjoy their time in school before they get to secondary and it's all work, work, work."

Although most parents were against the changes to the children's toilet facilities, the main reason behind the anger did not relate to the subject of identity, but privacy and the fact nobody was informed.

Speaking anonymously, a mother of an eight-year-old who attends the school said: "No one knew about it until the children were coming home and telling everyone - apparently they are the first school to do it in Swindon.

"My child is eight and the first I heard was when he come home and told us there was a little girl in the toilet while he was using the urinal.

"I also heard that there was a little girl with autism who was upset and scared, as a little boy went in and was watching her while she was on the toilet."

Parents said they have struggled to get answers from the interim headteacher and safeguarding lead Anna Willcox who has stopped spending her mornings on the playground since the change was brought in.

The mother added: "The headteacher is usually on the playground saying hello to all the parents in the morning, but she's not been seen since the change was made. She has disappeared, she's 'unavailable' when people call and when parents go to talk to her in the office after school, she's conveniently gone home early.

"It's a hard one but I understand some children are confused and don't want to go into the boys or the girls, but when they haven't got proper floor-to-ceiling walled toilets, that's my issue. Anybody can look on anybody going to the toilet, they are so low you don't even need to stand on a toilet to look over it.

"With tall walls it gives the children a bit of privacy, they haven't got to be about someone looking in on them.

"My only issue with this is that they haven't done it properly and haven't even consulted the parents."

The school later made the decision to revert the toilets back to how they were, separate for girls and boys.

In a statement, Anna Wilcox, headteacher at Moredon Primary and Nursery School, said: “At Moredon Primary and Nursery School, we believe in equality for all children in all aspects of school life.

"The school was challenged by an external body about the toilet facilities and making sure they were inclusive for all groups of children. With the best of intentions, for two days we made a change to school policy.

"On reflection, we recognised that whilst our intentions were right, we didn’t take the best approach.

"We’ve listened and taken on board the feedback from some of our parents and made a further adjustment to our policy.

"We now have both unisex and single sex toilets in school. As a school, we will continue to strive for an equitable provision that allows for freedom of choice whilst maintaining and respecting individual privacy.”


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