What your organisation should think about when it comes to the debate on gender-neutral washrooms
Unisex washrooms may soon become the norm in our increasingly evolving and equal society. It’s an issue that can still cause some debate, but putting aside the moral arguments for and against gender-neutral bathrooms, there are some practical considerations that all organisations need to consider.
The realities and norms of single-sex toilets
In most countries, it is accepted that all washrooms in public buildings and most in the workplace will be segregated into ladies’ and gents’ facilities. But times are changing and we live in a much more inclusive society.
The non-binary and transgender communities in particular are challenging the need to divide washrooms by gender. A recent YouGov survey in conjunction with Stonewall concluded that nearly half of transgender people felt unsafe using single-sex public toilets.
Aside from the debates on rights and safety concerning transgender, non-binary and people who identify as either gender – which continues to rage – it’s also true that unisex washrooms remove the worry that parents or caregivers may have when taking children or less-abled people of a different sex to the toilet. It’s simply not acceptable for children or people with an impairment to have to visit a bathroom unaccompanied when they are probably unable to do so.
Covering all needs – the basics of gender-neutral bathrooms
Meeting the needs of all people who use a bathroom is becoming increasingly essential for all organisations. Each cubicle should be equipped with a toilet roll, a sanitary bag dispenser and a waste bin. It is also good practice to include a supply of toilet seat disinfectant and hand sanitiser. It matters not for whom the washroom is designated as these are practical basics that will promote hygiene and dignity for all.
But on top of the essentials, it’s also increasingly common for those who provide bathrooms and toilets to supply products that appeal to everyone. This should include air fresheners, fragrances, lotions and soaps.
There have been some high profile controversies when public buildings have adopted gender-neutral bathroom policies. Most commonly these have arisen through a lack of forethought and consultation. For example, there have been instances when schools have introduced unisex washrooms while leaving urinals in situ in facilities that girls have been expected to use.
Professional cleaning services for your washrooms
Whatever your thoughts on this subject, the fundamentals of washroom hygiene and cleanliness must apply to all. It’s no longer the case that the gents’ is accepted as a smelly place while the ladies’ always has a queue. Adopting policies that apply to all people will also assist those with hidden disabilities, cognitive issues and temporary impairments such as an injury.