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Gender-Neutral Toilets (GNTs)

The University has converted toilet facilities across a number of its buildings into Gender-Neutral Toilets (GNTs). Here we provide further information about the initiative.

The University of Hertfordshire celebrates and values the diversity of its workforce and student population and endeavours to treat all employees and students fairly, equally and with respect. We are committed to ensure equality for our trans students and staff, and GNTs are one way to do that.

This initiative was approved by the Central Executive Group and supported by the Equality Office, Students’ Union, LGBT+ Staff Network, LGBT+ Student Society, Estates and the Trans-Inclusive Steering Group.

A list of GNTs and their locations will be posted soon.

What are Gender-Neutral Toilets?

GNTs are simply toilets that can be used by people of any sex, gender or gender identity, i.e. transgender, intersex, non-binary, female, male etc. They make life easier for transgender and non-binary individuals, who may feel more comfortable using a non-gendered toilet facility, but also carers and parents of small children.

Why did we introduce them?

The Equality Office recognised the need and demand for GNTs after receiving requests from the Students’ Union, LGBT+ staff and student societies, individual students and staff. The transgender and non-binary community at the University also expressed concerns that they do not always feel safe using a gendered toilet because they receive abuse or unwanted remarks, are challenged for using a particular toilet, and are harassed. In some extreme cases, trans staff and students refrain from using the toilet all day because they find it too stressful.

We aimed to provide a suitable number of GNTs without compromising gendered and accessible toilets, allowing all individuals the choice and also ensuring that we are meeting the needs of those with characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010. Additionally, as a signatory to the Athena SWAN Charter one of the principles commits the University to tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people. A large number of universities across the sector are also moving towards providing GNTs.

Why did we convert mainly women’s toilets into GNTs?

Although we would have ideally liked to provide male, female and unisex toilet options in all instances, unfortunately this will only be the case in new buildings (e.g. the new Enterprise Building on de Havilland) due to the structures of existing toilets. In most instances, the decision was taken to convert female toilets as they do not contain urinals and typically have floor to ceiling cubicles, allowing for further privacy.

In all cases we have identified toilets to convert where there is another option of a female toilet nearby (e.g. in buildings where there is only one male and one female toilet, no toilets have been converted). Overall, a handful of toilets are being converted across the campuses to ensure an even spread and in all new university buildings, men’s toilets will be converted into GNTs to balance out the provision. 

GNT pilot and consultation period

A pilot involving GNTs being installed in four locations (Art and Design Building, the Law Court Building and both LRCs) ran from April-May 2018. Comments and concerns were invited from staff and students by way of an anonymous survey and direct communication with the Equality Office. Smaller focus group sessions were also conducted.

Communications were sent out via StudyNet, StaffNet, the TV Screens, by email and information posters were placed in the GNTs to promote awareness of the pilot and to encourage staff and students to give feedback either by email or through the survey.  At the close of the survey there were 624 responses and 56 comments sent by email to the Equality Office, with more received since. In addition, a Feasibility Study was conducted and approved by the People Development Board and Central Executive Group.

UH supports students from the trans community and wants to reiterate that individuals may choose to use a GNT but are still welcome, and encouraged, to use the toilets of their identified gender – not necessarily the gender they were assigned at birth.

For further information, please contact the Equality Office at equality@herts.ac.uk.

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