Single-sex toilets will be mandatory in all new public buildings

New office buildings, schools, hospitals and entertainment venues must have separate toilets for men and women, ministers will say this week, in a bid to curb the “forced sharing” of gender-neutral facilities.

The Telegraph understands that the government will officially announce that it is acting to prevent the construction of non-residential buildings only with ‘universal’ toilets. The move will involve changes to building regulations and planning advice.

The plans, led by Kemi Badenoch, the equality minister, were quietly endorsed by ministers last month after Ms Badenoch was warned that some children were avoiding using the toilets at school because they had no access only to gender-neutral facilities.

Ms Badenoch insisted it is both legal and “important” to provide gender-separated spaces for men and women.

It is likely to be touted by ministers as a ‘common sense’ approach to help thwart a growing trend of gender-neutral toilets becoming the default option in new buildings.

The move follows a review launched by Robert Jenrick, who was Housing Secretary until last year, who sources said had identified women’s concerns about reduced privacy and queuing longer resulting from gender-neutral installations.

“Dignity and Privacy”

Women’s rights groups have warned that women are “disadvantaged” by gender-neutral facilities that contain a mix of urinals and stalls, “since they cannot use the urinals, while men can use the cabins”.

“Furthermore, many women and girls do not want to walk past urinals to get to cubicles in old men’s facilities,” campaign group Fair Play for Women said in a submission to the government.

A government source said: “It is essential that women feel safe and comfortable when using public facilities and that there is a greater emphasis on services that focus on dignity, privacy, tolerance and respect for all.

“These changes will stop the march of ‘universal’ and enforced sharing of spaces – with a focus on ensuring privacy for all. It is a common sense approach that is inclusive for all.

The guidance will apply to buildings above a certain size, which will be set after a technical consultation in the fall.

Sources said ministers and Downing Street want the changes to apply to all buildings that operate as business premises.

Government Property Agency guidelines will also be updated to ensure government-owned buildings, new or redeveloped, have gender-segregated toilets.

Women’s safety

In 2019, the Old Vic Theater in central London became the latest venue to come under fire when it converted all of its men’s and women’s toilets into gender-neutral ones, as part of a renovation.

The theater has doubled the number of restrooms in the building and said it will mark new rooms with images of a cubicle or urinal, “allowing people to make their own decision as to which restroom is right for them” .

Last year, responding to claims that the proposed changes were ‘transphobic’, Mr Jenrick told the Telegraph: ‘It was just about trying to protect women’s safety and privacy. Lots of women. .. would prefer to have separate toilets for men and women in public buildings.

He added that the requirement for single-sex toilets would mean that “women using these facilities will have the confidence and security of knowing that if they wish they can go to their own toilets and they will not find other people”. in them. I think it’s the right thing to do.

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