Schools should not have gender neutral toilets, suggests Kemi Badenoch

·3 min read
Gender neutral toilet
Gender neutral toilet

Kemi Badenoch has suggested schools should not have gender neutral toilets as she insisted privacy was “the key thing” for pupils.

The Business and Trade Secretary praised Rishi Sunak’s plans to issue clear guidance on transgender issues to schools, amid a row over different institutions applying different rules.

Mr Sunak has pledged to publish the guidance during the summer term after a report by the Policy Exchange think tank found parents are being kept in the dark when their child changes gender identity at nearly half of schools.

Asked about the issue on Times Radio, Ms Badenoch replied: “The distinction is actually quite important. A disabled toilet, for example, is unisex, but is private. Privacy is the key thing.

“A gender neutral toilet is one where there is actually limited privacy, and both sexes are able to use them – one where you have exposed urinals [and] cubicles with minimal privacy.

“There’s a written ministerial statement, which I released last year, which talks about it, we need privacy, unisex toilets are fine. But schools need to look at how much privacy children have when they’re using toilets. That’s the key thing.”

Head teachers 'confused'

Pressed on whether this meant unisex toilets were fine but gender neutral toilets were not, Ms Badenoch replied: “If you’re using the definition that I’m using around gender neutral, yes.”

Ms Badenoch added that “any sort of toilet” that did not provide privacy was not suitable for schools, and said it was not for her to describe “exactly” what each school’s toilets looked like.

Stressing the need for “robust guidance” on broader issues around gender, she said: “I’ve spoken to head teachers myself, including the head teacher of my own children’s schools, and they are finding the landscape very confusing, because there’s a lot of misinformation out there.”

In a separate interview, Ms Badenoch insisted it was up to teachers to tell parents if their child was transitioning or wanting to transition their gender.

'A parent has a right to know'

“I believe that a parent has a right to know,” she told LBC’s Nick Ferrari. “And what we’re going to do with the guidance is make sure that we set out what the law is, and help many of those schools who really are confused about what to do depending on the specific scenarios.

“But I’m very much of the view that parents should know. I have three children myself and I think I would be astonished if a school was doing things without letting me, the parent, know.”

It comes as the Prime Minister has ordered an independent review of sex education amid growing frustration with Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary.

MPs and peers urged Mr Sunak to take oversight of the report out of Ms Keegan’s hands amid concerns over her “soft” approach to transgender issues.

Earlier this year, she suggested 16-year-olds were old enough to change their gender despite the Government blocking a controversial Scottish Bill which would allow people to self-identify at that age.