“Should schools make all their toilets unisex?”
Covering relevant topics such as biological sex, gender and societal expectations, this Debate Kit helps students explore what gender means to them and others. The Kit includes eight characters with different viewpoints to encourage a balanced discussion around the question, which many schools already find themselves asking.
The kit provides all you need to run a debate around unisex toilets and to help them understand the differences between one’s biological sex and gender identity. The structure shows students how to build a discussion and back up their opinions with facts.
All the facts in the Unisex Toilets Debate Kit have been researched. This page contains references and additional resources relating to the kit.
Take a class vote to show how many students would answer “Yes”, “No” or “Don’t know” to the debate question at the start, part-way through and the end of your lesson. Share your class thoughts with us using this survey during the lesson.
There may well be trans students in your class, or students questioning their gender identity. Here are some resources you may find useful. Some are about making your classroom safe and inclusive. Some are about sources of further support (e.g. if a student has been affected by the content of the kit and wants to talk to someone about it).
How teachers can support transgender students (The Guardian)
Short article written by teacher on how to make your classroom safe and inclusive
Supporting transgender young people PDF (Stonewall Scotland)
A 60-page PDF produced by Stonewall that offers guidance for schools on supporting transgender young people
Information for Educators (GIRES)
Various factsheets and resources on gender development specifically designed for educators from the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)
Gendered Intelligence are a social enterprise who offer training for teachers and school staff, workshops and assemblies for students, and mentoring for trans and gender variant young people
Each character in this Debate Kit has a Fact. References for each of these facts are provided below:
Fact: It’s hard to work out, but one estimate says that 1% of the UK population – 1 in 100 – is trans. One survey found that 48% of trans people don’t feel comfortable using public toilets through feel of being harassed.
The Number of Gender Variant People in the UK (GIRES) and LGBT in Britain – Trans Report (Stonewall)
Fact: In an experiment, adults treated the same newborn baby differently depending on if it was dressed in blue or in pink. Boys and girls are treated differently from the minute they are born.
Baby X: The effect of gender labels on adult responses to infant (Springer journal article)
Fact: On average, women take 90 seconds to use the toilet, vs 40 seconds for men. Partly because women sit for everything, and may need to change sanitary protection. You need about twice as many women’s toilet as men’s, to have waiting times be about the same for both.
Why queues for women’s toilets are longer than men’s (The Conversation)
Fact: Researchers believe that 1.7% (nearly 1 in 60) of babies are born intersex. There are different ways someone can be intersex – they may have ambiguous genitalia, or their chromosomal sex might be different from what would be expected from their genitals – but many would be unaware without genetic testing.
Intersex Population Figures (Intersex Human Rights Australia)
Fact: A recent investigation found that the majority of sexual assaults in swimming pools and leisure centres happened in unisex changing rooms. Only 10% happened in single-sex changing areas.
Unisex changing rooms put women at danger of sexual assault, data reveals (Independent)
Fact: The average woman is menstruating for 4 days out of every 28 – that’s 52 days a year.
Normal menstruation (Cleveland Clinic)
Fact: Sexual dimorphism (males being significantly different to females) is common in most animals. From peacocks to lions, it’s natural for males and females to be different.
Sexual dimorphism (Wikipedia)
Fact: Men in Denmark do 107 minutes of housework every day – men in the UK do 66 minutes a day. Not because of Danish men’s brains are different or anything. But because the way they are socialised is different.
The countries where men do the most housework (The Atlantic)
These links offer further information about topics that may arise during the debate.
Sex Redefined: The Idea of 2 Sexes Is Overly Simplistic (Scientific American)
Is sex binary? (Arc Digital)
Male and female brains
Male and female brains, no there aren’t (The Cosmic Shambles Network)
Debunking the male-female brain mosaic (Wiring the Brain)
Children and gender
Q&A with leading researcher on children and gender, Carrie Paechter, which includes a link to a PDF of suggested further reading (Parenting Science Gang)
Stats on prevalence of transgender
Office for National Statistics position paper on why they don’t produce stats on how many trans people there are in the UK
Discussion of issues around unisex toilets
Why we should have unisex toilets (The Guardian)
Unisex toilets don’t work for women (Womans Place UK)
‘The Word Gay has been Banned but People use it in the Boys’ Toilets whenever you go in’: spatialising children’s subjectivities in response to gender and sexualities education in English primary schools (Journal of Social & Cultural Geography)
The problem with self-identification (The Conversation)
Increased risk of sexual assault in unisex facilities (Independent)