Calls for gender-neutral toilets for transgender pupils
Schools told to introduce gender-neutral toilets, changing rooms and uniforms to make trans pupils feel more comfortable.
Members of a major teaching union will today debate whether they need special training to deal with “gender identity and trans issues”.
The chair of the ATL’s equality and diversity committee has put forward the motion challenging “gender identity prejudice” in education.
History teacher Julia Neal told the Evening Standard that teachers need training on how to provide “non-gender-specific facilities”.
“It’s about senior management teams and governing bodies understanding that there are a lot of facilities in schools that are separated — changing rooms and toilets and uniforms are very gender-specific,” she said.
“If there is gender fluidity they need to understand the importance of gender-neutral facilities.
“And they need to understand how pupils want to be referred to, as he or she,” she added.
“It’s a delicate area. Teachers are not confident, which is not a criticism.”
Neal went on to suggest that all schools could consider introduce mixed toilets and changing rooms – or adding a third option of gender neutral facilities for students.
However, she admitted that banning female or male facilities completely may make some people “uncomfortable”.
Neal is calling for teachers to be given further information and training on how to support young people who have gender identity questions, and for trans role models to be celebrated in schools.
“Teachers could be trained into how they can best use inclusive language. The terms which are used for gender identity are quite complicated,” she said.
“They need training on how to provide non-gender-specific facilities and how to help students going through transition.”
Neal says all schools should think about transgender issues, even if they do not think there are any pupils to whom they apply.
“My own view is that it doesn’t matter if it’s just one student who isn’t served by the lack of [teachers’] understanding.
“That is one student’s life that is very difficult.”