The gender wars are always ongoing, if the papers are to be believed. Women are from Venus and men are from Mars, as the couples guide goes – and it’s not as dated a reference as you might think.
National newspaper the Guardian heads feminist debates form a large portion of its columnists, while the Daily Mail seldom lasts a day without describing the disconnect between men and women in the household.
With that in mind, it might come as a surprise that many are pushing for “universal” washrooms which don’t discriminate between genders.
The city of Ottawa in Canada, for instance, has implemented genderless washrooms in 20 per cent of schools run by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
According to the board’s director of education Jennifer Adams, “Students that feel safe and comfortable in their learning environment are going to learn better.”
“All of our new builds over the last number of years have had universal washrooms, single-stall washrooms, and this is just part of that ongoing work.”
The move has in part heralded a new acceptance of transgender students within the community, with Amanda Knox, whose daughter is transgender, stating, “What the board is doing is likely going to save lives.”
A worthy endeavour
It’s a worthy endeavour, then, with the aim of supporting diversity and acceptance within schools. But will it affect matters of hygiene?
Men and women have been known to differ in terms of what they do and don’t find effective in terms of hygiene practice. This is partly thanks to differing views in gender roles inculcated from a young age.
Theoretically, this practical difference would become less prominent thanks to universal washrooms at a young age. It’s an interesting theory, and only time will tell if it proves accurate.
But what do you think? Would you be comfortable with universal washrooms in UK schools? Let us know – we’re always interested to hear your views on hygiene news.