The new educate together secondary school, which is due to open in Castletroy, Limerick in 2021, will include fully gender-neutral toilets, its principal has confirmed. However, these toilets will be accompanied by traditional male and female toilets, should students wish to use them.
Limerick Educate Together Secondary School is due to accept 1,000 students.
The gender neutral bathrooms in the new school will not be segregated into male and female, but will instead have individual, fully lockable stalls, with the only shared area being the sinks.
Eoin Shinners, Principal of the new school, told this website: “per the DES design and specifications, that the new school will have a gender neutral student toilet on each of the three floors in additional to the other standard male and female student toilets. There are also multiple universal access toilets through the new building.”
Earlier this year, St Brigid’s National School in Greystones, Co Wicklow, became the first school in Ireland to confirm that it would be phasing out boys’ and girls’ toilets in favour of gender-neutral facilities.
Five secondary schools that have not yet been built, and are in the planning stages, have also requested permission from the Department of Education to also introduce such facilities, though it is unclear whether they will follow in the footsteps of the Limerick school, and preserve the traditional option as well.
Supporters of gender-neutral toilets say that they are more inclusive, and will help with the integration of children who are transgender. There has been much controversy in the west over the issue of bathroom arrangements for transgender children, with parents raising concern that biologically male teenagers would end up using the female bathrooms.
A report from the UK this week suggested that gender neutral toilets were causing some girls to skip school altogether, or to avoid drinking fluids during school hours in an attempt to avoid the bathrooms:
“Gender-neutral toilets in schools have left girls feeling unsafe and even put their health at risk, parents and teachers have warned.
Girls who are menstruating are so anxious about sharing facilities with boys that some are staying at home for fear of being made to feel ‘period shame’.
With a growing number of both primary and secondary schools installing unisex toilets, some girls are risking infections by refusing to urinate all day.
Others are so fearful they have stopped drinking liquids at school.”