Buildings must have single-sex toilets, ministers to confirm this week

Schools, hospitals, shops and offices must have separate single-sex toilets, Government will confirm this week, after minister warned some children are ‘avoiding’ using gender neutral lavatories

  • Equalities Minister is leading plans to halt the growing trend of ‘universal’ toilets
  • Kemi Badenoch last week warned pupils avoid using toilets during school time
  • Plans, quietly approved last month, will include changes to planning regulations 
  • Women’s rights groups argue they are ‘disadvantaged’ by gender-neutral toilets

New offices, schools, hospitals and shops must have separate single-sex toilets, the Government will confirm this week, after a minister warned children ‘avoid’ using gender-neutral lavatories at school.

Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch is leading proposals to prevent non-residential buildings from being built with ‘universal’ toilets as part of efforts to halt the ‘forced sharing of spaces’.

The plans, understood to have quietly been approved last month, will include changes to building and planning regulations to enshrine separate stalls in new buildings and demand partitions be installed in current unisex facilities, The Telegraph reports.

It comes after Ms Badenoch warned last week that pupils are avoiding going to the toilet during school hours because they only have access to gender-neutral lavatories.

She says it is legal and ‘important’ to provide single-sex spaces for males and females after claims last year that women were finding it hard to find single-sex facilities.

The plans are understood as likely to be tabled as a ‘common sense’ way of putting a halt to an increasing norm of gender-neutral toilets being constructed as the default option in new buildings.

Kemi Badenoch, the Equalities Minister, is leading plans to prevent non-residential buildings from being built with ‘universal’ toilets

Planning regulations will be rewritten as part of the plans. Pictured: Gender neutral toilets at Wimbledon last week

In April, parents were furious after a £7million children’s play area in Brentwood, Essex, was fitted with gender-neutral toilets.

And last week, new guidance told civil servants that they should let people who identify as transgender to use whichever single-sex toilet they want.

The National Trust was also accused of pursuing a ‘woke’ agenda after introducing gender-neutral toilets at Tredegar House in Newport, South Wales, when a woman walked in to find a man urinating without the door locked.

It comes after former communities secretary Robert Jenrick set out plans to rewrite planning regulations in favour of single-sex facilities last year.

A review of the issue was launched by Mr Jenrick’s department in November following several complaints over the way companies and authorities had replaced single sex restrooms with gender-neutral facilities. 

It is understood the change would apply to offices, shops and entertainment venues, plus hospitals and other public services. It will also apply to buildings undergoing refurbishment, where consent is required for the works.

Under the changes, buildings will have to separate male and female facilities, and make sure women’s cubicles are entirely self contained, with basins and hand dryers, for privacy.

Gender-neutral toilets pictured at Wimbledon last week, understood to have been constructed during the pandemic

NHS hospitals have spent more than £800,000 on gender-neutral toilets over the past four years

A sign on the lavatory door of the café at Tredegar House in Newport, South Wales, says: ‘Gender neutral toilets. Alternative toilet facilities are available by the main car park’

Women’s rights groups have long argued that they are ‘disadvantaged’ by gender-neutral toilets that contain both urinals and cubicles.

A Government source told The Telegraph: ‘It is vital that women feel safe and comfortable when using public facilities and that there is a greater emphasis on provision that is focused on dignity, privacy, tolerance and respect for all.

“These changes will stop the march of “universal” and forced sharing of spaces – with a focus on guaranteeing privacy for all. 

‘This is a common sense approach that is inclusive for all.’

The Home Office, BBC, Channel 4 offices all have gender-neutral facilities.

The Old Vic theatre also scrapped its men and women toilets and replaced them with ‘self-selection’ facilities that can be used by both genders in October 2019.

But it is understood that ministers want the plans to also apply to all new or redeveloped Government buildings, too.

It has been reported that NHS hospitals have spent more than £800,000 on gender-neutral toilets in the past four years. 

Data obtained by the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) showed nearly 740 new unisex toilets were either built or converted since 2018 — including during the Covid pandemic.

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, in Merseyside, alone spent more than £586,000 on 63 gender-neutral lavatories.

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