According to recent reports, girls risk infections due to the anxiety of sharing bathrooms with boys.
The fight for gender-neutral bathrooms in schools, malls, and other public places was hotly debated when the policy to introduce them was first announced. While they were considered a major win for the LGBTQIAP+ community, many individuals believed that they would give assaulters and harassers a platform to perpetrate crimes and prey on victims. Not only did this misrepresent a whole community of people, but it was also considered the continued character assassination of the LGTBQIAP+ community. It appears, however, that the introduction of gender-neutral bathrooms in schools in the United Kingdom has made it difficult for girls to go to the toilet. Reports claiming that girls are shamed into holding their pee or skipping school due to the fear of being teased—not by those in the LGBTQIAP+ community, but by boys—have been released. This may just show that these toilets are not the most inclusive solution after all, The Daily Mail reports.
Girls who are menstruating are so uncomfortable and ashamed about sharing gender-neutral bathrooms with boys, it appears, that they simply skip school and stay at home. While this may not be a result of the gender-neutral bathrooms themselves, but rather the consequence of the taboo and stigma surrounding menstruation, it is definitely something for policymakers and school boards to consider when instituting gender-neutral bathrooms. Additionally, girls have claimed that they hold in their pee, refusing to urinate all day, due to the anxiety they feel when utilizing same-sex toilets. In some extreme cases, girls have simply stopped drinking liquids at school altogether.
Unfortunately, many girls risk infections when doing so. As general practitioner Dr. Tessa Katz noted, holding in one's pee for extended periods of time on a consistent basis could lead to an increased risk of urinary and bladder infections. She added, "The psychological effects of girls not feeling safe enough to use mixed-sex toilets [are] also concerning." Therefore, doctors and lawmakers alike have called for schools to reconsider their decisions to establish gender-neutral bathrooms. Tory Member of Parliament David Davies affirmed, "If girls are not comfortable sharing toilets with boys then schools should make provision for them, rather than saying girls have got a problem."
Concerns regarding privacy have also sparked outrage. In some schools, for instance, parents are not consulted regarding gender-neutral bathrooms, which has left parents angry, frustrated, and concerned about their children's safety. One angry mother shared, "The cubicles were open at the bottom and top so older pupils can easily climb up the toilets and peer over." However, schools are under the false impression that implementing single-gender bathrooms are a violation of equity laws, which Stephanie Davies-Arai from the parent campaign group Transgender Trend revealed was simply not true. This is perhaps why schools feel obligated to institute same-sex toilets without thoroughly analyzing all the implications.
Nonetheless, it must be noted that the girls' fears do not arise from the gender-neutral bathrooms themselves, but rather the sexist patriarchal culture that they and their boy counterparts are raised in. If we raised our children to be period positive and took an objective and scientific approach to sex education, girls would be less likely to experience negative emotions related to periods or using the same washroom as their male peers. Changing this culture would also mean building a more inclusive and LGBTQIAP+ positive environment on school campuses. However, addressing culture is a slow and tedious process, which cannot be done through easy fixes like implementing gender-neutral bathrooms. They're only one step forward that must be accompanied by several other measures to address our toxic heteropatriarchy, including teaching boys how to unlearn misogyny.