Gender Neutral Toilet Fit Out
Call it political correctness or equality in the making, the gender neutral toilet has been a hot topic of debate. It seems that gender neutral toilets could become as mandatory in the modern workplace as disabled facilities.
According to an article published in the Express, employment lawyer Steven Eckett – who advises the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community – said allowing people to declare their gender may leave bosses open to legal action when it comes to labelling toilets: “With an increasing move for gender to be more fluid, employers’ risk being accused of discriminatory behaviour simply by designating whether a toilet is for specific use for men or women.”
Which Businesses Are Onboard?
For some businesses offering gender neutral washrooms is a no brainer. The BBC, for instance has 417 transgender employees and has had unisex toilet facilities in its building for a long time. These are stand alone washrooms with a single toilet and sink, with no gender identity signage at all.
Other London offices are following suit and leading the way in this equal attitude to washroom facilities. Workers in London have accepted shared washrooms in the workplace, causing more businesses to commission a gender neutral toilet fit out. For example, Lloyds of London sports gender neutral toilets, with appropriate signage. There are also plans for a fit out of gender neutral toilets at Channel 4 and Google’s London office.
Even the British Army has adopted a gender fluid attitude to promoting equality in the military by removing all gender-specific toilet signage at its headquarters in Andover, Hampshire, which houses over 2,000 officers.
It seems unisex toilets are widely acceptable among young adults too. Students at Oxford college were asked to vote on gender sharing washrooms and 80% voted for the motion.
What Does a Gender Neutral Toilet Look Like?
There is nothing unusual or different to a gender neutral toilet. It can be reminiscent of a typical female washroom fit out – featuring multiple toilet cubicals, sinks, mirrors, hand dryers etc – or a singular disabled washroom, with one toilet and one basin.
You may decide that urinals are not suitable in a gender neutral office toilet fit out, as they could cause embarrassment among female colleagues. However, in public toilets and venues, where there is substantial traffic, urinals can be a practical solution to preventing long queues.
How do You Know if a Toilet is Unisex?
There is no signal or special nod that identifies a toilet as gender neutral. In fact, it all boils down to a simple sign. Often unisex washrooms display a sign of half a male and half female figure, or all the standard male/female/disabled icons. Alternatively, they may simply have a ‘Toilet’ sign on the door.
How Unisex Toilets Can Facilitate Transsexual Individuals in Their Daily Life
Widely introducing unisex toilets may seem bazaar to those that have no experience of being transgender or knowing someone that is questioning their sexuality. But, toilets are an everyday necessity that has always been assigned a label – one that defines your gender!
For most, choosing the correct toilet door to walk through based on its girl or boy icon is no more than a split second decision. However, for transgender individuals and those questioning their sexual status, it is an everyday struggle that reminds them how society requires them to fit within a box that they may have battled with their whole lives.
Transgender people account for 1% of the UK population and there are on average 50 children per week referred to the Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS), according the Mirror. This clinic supports young people questioning their gender and gives them time to explore their emotions before embarking on puberty.
These stats highlight how widespread gender questioning is in our society, so can a simple change to toilet signage be that much of an obstacle?
Pros and Cons of Gender Neutral Toilets
The removal of male and female labels on washroom doors demonstrates societies further acceptance for the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Questioning) society, consequently creating greater equality in our culture and in the workplace.
Aside from the benefits to transsexual and gender fluid individuals, there are benefits of unisex toilets for everyone!
Female washrooms are renowned for their queues. Whether it’s at an airport, restaurant, cinema, entertainment venue or public space, the female washrooms automatically attract a queue. Who know’s why males manage to avoid this problem, but it is thought that the introduction of unisex toilets could significantly reduce queuing time for females.
Unisex washrooms can also benefit families, who can feel more comfortable taking children of the opposite sex into the toilets.
Attitudes to hygiene could be improved. Knowing that both males and females are using the facilities could encourage users to be more courteous to the next occupant.
While there are a lot of pros to unisex toilets, there has been a lot of controversy, which we should touch on to ensure any business looking to adopt such facilities is aware of the impact it could have of their colleagues, customers and clients.
Safety in gender neutral toilets has been a cause for concern, especially in entertainment venues, clubs and bars, where alcohol can fuel harassment and intimidation.
It also appears that male users may need to change their washroom habits for a more harmonious adoption of unisex toilets. It was published in the Daily Mail and Metro that females at the Home Office refused to the use the £36,000 gender neutral toilet fit out because of male users’ toilet habits – specifically leaving the door open while doing their business!
Regardless of if you agree with gender neutral toilet or not, they are likely to be the future for office washroom refurbishments and fit outs. Only time will tell if they work!
If you are considering a new washroom fit out, please contact our team.