The Queen Margaret Union will install some gender-neutral toilets after a request from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Society.
The Union plans to convert the existing third-floor bathrooms into a unisex toilet. It would have no urinals and would make the existing men’s showers, said to be the better showers, on that floor accessible to all.
The decision was finalised by board members on January 30, after being agreed upon in October last year. The board was in full support of the move, with the only disagreement coming over whether to label both or only one of the third floor toilets as gender-neutral. In the end, it was decided that only the male toilets should be made unisex.
President Kirsty Hill said:
It’s about increasing the choice for our membership and we want to make sure our members feel comfortable.” She later added: “I personally deem this issue to be important as we are stepping forward on a multitude of issues which affect our members and we will be continuing to pursue in the future.
Meanwhile, plans are being finalized by the University to introduce approximately ten unisex toilets across campus with the backing of Secretary of Court, David Newall, who also gave his full support to the QMU’s plans. These university-wide toilets should be introduced by the end of the current semester. They will be situated in carefully chosen areas throughout campus, with the focus being on ensuring accessibility throughout the day. The hope is that by introducing these facilities the University will help break down the stigma faced by those who do not conform to a straightforward concept of gender. Amy Johnson (SRC VP student support) who has pushed for the implementation of gender neutral toilets and saw the plans approved at University level said:
No one need lose out through the implementation of these facilities as only a few toilets will be changed and there will be copious other options if certain students feel uncomfortable about using them. However as a result of this change a group of students who have thus far been overlooked will now have the basic right to feel safe and relaxed whilst using the bathroom on campus. They can be used by anyone, regardless of gender, without fear of incident or discrimination.
Glasgow will follow Aberdeen and also the University of Edinburgh to become the third university in Scotland with gender-neutral toilets.
Scotland, though, is still behind many nations in terms of accommodating for those of ambiguous gender. Thailand, for example, introduced specifically transgendered toilets in Secondary schools in 2008 after one school discovered that 10% of those who used the ‘Boys’ bathrooms actually considered themselves transgender. The Southeast Asian country is also in the process of passing a bill to recognise ‘Transgender’ as a gender option on passports, following Australia, which introduced ‘Indeterminate’ as a gender option on their passports last September.