Female Home Office staff refuse to use £36,000 gender-neutral toilets

Female Home Office employees are refusing to use new £36,000 gender-neutral toilets because they feel ‘distressed’ by their male colleagues leaving the cubicle doors open

  • Notice on bathroom at Westminster headquarters asked men to keep doors shut
  • Five male and five female toilets have been converted into ten unisex facilities
  • Home Office said bathroom was designed to create a comfortable environment

Women have been avoiding new £36,000 gender-neutral lavatories at the Home Office because men are leaving their cubicle doors open while they’re inside.

A notice has been placed outside the unisex toilets at the department’s Westminster headquarters asking men to ensure they only use them with the doors shut because their behaviour was keeping female colleagues away.

‘Women are finding use of the toilets quite distressing and are not using these toilets as a result,’ it continues.

Women at the Home Office have been avoiding using new £36,000 unisex toilets at the Westminster headquarters (pictured, a note pinned to the door of the facilities)

Five male and five female loos have been converted to ten unisex facilities, each with three cubicles.

Freedom of Information requests revealed that the bill for remodelling them was £28,892.50, while signs bearing a picture of a lavatory and the words ‘Gender Neutral Toilets’ cost an additional £8,070.70, bringing the total to £36,963.20.

The Home Office said the WCs were designed to create a comfortable environment for all staff and that it was among a growing number of Government departments introducing gender-neutral facilities.

But James Price, of the Tax- Payers’ Alliance campaign group, said that if the new facility was not serving its purpose, it meant public money had been ‘effectively flushed away’.

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He added: ‘Public spending should be predicated on how people behave in real life, not on how some mandarin thinks they ought to behave on paper. If these facilities are not being used properly, then lessons should be learnt to ensure money isn’t wasted on similar projects.’

Christian Concern chief executive Andrea Minichiello Williams said she was not surprised that women felt uncomfortable at having to share toilets with men.

She added: ‘By attempting to be inclusive towards a very small number of trans-identifying people, companies and public authorities have actually made conditions significantly worse for women – as nearly everyone predicted would happen.

‘We hate to have to state the obvious, but men and women – and boys and girls – need separate, single-sex toilets. This is something women fought hard for in the past – and still fight for in parts of the developing world today.’

The Home Office said the WCs were designed to create a comfortable environment for all staff (file photo)

The Home Office is among several major organisations to have introduced gender-neutral loos.

The Army removed two ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gentlemen’ signs at its £44million headquarters in Andover, Hampshire, and changed to unisex lavatories this summer.

The BBC, which has 417 transgender staff, has gender-neutral toilets in all its buildings.

The Corporation also revealed it will soon give staff paid time off for sex change surgery.

Channel 4 created gender-neutral toilets at its HQ last year, and in March, Google announced it would be installing them at its office in central London.

Sanitary bins were placed in male lavatories at Newcastle University after the idea was approved unanimously by the students’ union in June. The move is meant to help gender-neutral students use the facility they were ‘most comfortable with’.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are committed to being an inclusive employer and creating an environment where all staff feel comfortable at work.

‘The works contracted came out of a budget reserved for building maintenance and modification.’

Who can use a gender neutral bathroom in Britain? 

Gender-neutral toilets can be used by people of any gender or gender identity, be it male, female, transgender or intersex – in which a person may be born with genitalia or chromosomes from both sexes.

Most of the organisations that introduce them also have separate male and female loos.

The unisex toilets usually have closed cubicles and shared sinks, but no urinals. 

Many have separate bins for sanitary waste. Manchester University became one of the first institutions to have a transgender lavatory when it simply relabelled the ladies’ as ‘toilet’ in 2008 after transgender students complained that their needs were not being met.

Unisex loos have become more common since gender-reassignment discrimination became illegal under the Equality Act 2010.

Organisations can be taken to court if transgender staff or students are treated worse than others.

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