Even if it only benefits one student it’s worth the fight

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The collective student officers who make up LUSU’s Council last week voted to promote the inclusion of gender neutral toilets in all future buildings and refurbishments. This simple agreement has taken more than a year to reach. It was attempted last summer and was shot down amid various misconstructions, ranging from a prudish “wouldn’t they be really messy” to the outlandish “don’t people have sex in them”.

The extra year hasn’t caused too many set backs, and it was long enough to convince officers that neither of these points, or those in between, is the case. And it’s better to take it forward with the whole of the Union behind rather than having to drag some along by their heels.

Outside of the meeting there were still some worryingly inward looking grumbles over how necessary they really are, a classic case of “I can’t understand why someone would have a problem with the status quo so there can’t really be a problem”. The grumblers have presumably completely missed the point of a union, student or not. Even if just one student on campus feels uncomfortable or disadvantaged by the current set up then their Students’ Union should be standing up for them, arguing on their behalf.

At a time when national equality policy is becoming more regressive, students’ unions everywhere need to make sure they’re becoming more progressive: equipping people with the tools and confidence they need to combat ignorance and discrimination in the wider world. We won’t see gender neautral toilets springing up over night, at Lancaster or anywhere else, but this move does mean our university will be more inclusive in the future, which can only be a good thing.

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3 Comments

  1. what’s the point of debating or having gender neutral toilets? if there’s no extra cost to having them as they are now why fix what ain’t broke??

  2. It is important to have Gender Neutral Toilets for our students who don’t feel comfortable using Gendered facilities, which is a lot more common than is sometimes realised. This can range from people who are born intersex to Trans students. It is general LUSU inclusion policy ensure that all of our students feel comfortable using facilities available on campus and GNTs are a big part of that; especially, as you rightly pointed out, as they cost no more money than gendered facilities and often only require a different sign (as in the case of Pendle Rooms, which now offers a GNT upstairs)

    There are two points that many people forget when dealing with these issues;
    Firstly, that we do have a Trans community on campus and we, as a Union, have a responsibility to represent these students and make them feel comfortable.
    Secondly, that GNTs do not negatively effect the cisgendered (those who define as the gender they are born into) community. They are very common (most disabled toilets are gender neutral, Pendle Rooms, Learning Zone cubicles etc…).

    As Lizzie rightly said- one student warrents having them provided that our students retain the right to use gendered facilities if that is what they choose, that the cost is kept to a minimum and that they are feasible (i.e, whe don’t start moving walls without cause).

    Hope that helps.

    Aaron Spence,
    LUSU Equality Officer

  3. “why fix what ain?t broke??”

    It is broke. That’s the point!

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