Teenagers at the Moulton School in Northampton, England, are now sharing restrooms, much to the dismay of parents, who warn that the unisex bathroom will be a haven for bullying and underage sex.
The Moulton School merged bathrooms in an effort to crack down on bullying in “intimidating” single-sex bathrooms, the Daily Mail reported.
Parents warn that male and female students as young as 12 using the same restroom is practically handing them a place to hide.
“If the kids are dating there will be no more ‘round the back of the bike sheds,’” said parent Jayne Poole, 39. “At a time of raging hormones and teenage angst they need their own personal and separate space. I think it’s a very bad idea.”
The school’s head teacher, Trevor Jones, suggested that the sharing of restrooms will keep vandals and bullies in check.
“We want to provide excellent facilities for our students and this design is intended to reduce both bullying and vandalism, as traditional toilet areas can be intimidating and unpleasant areas for students to go into.”
Jones said the decision was backed by school governors.
Former head teacher Chris McGovern, 62, told the Daily Mail that the unisex bathroom could make matters worse.
“It may actually increase bullying because it is an area that teachers will rarely go — it could drive bullying underground, behind closed doors, in a way,” McGovern said. “There's no reason why it will possibly reduce any form of bullying. Toilets are, and should be, private for both sexes. Mixing them could cause a disaster and children would probably want to have separate toilets.”
The unisex bathroom also has no mirror in it.
“The new area is being used regularly and safely,” Jones said, “and the only adverse comment that has come from the students is regarding the absence of mirrors; a deliberate decision to avoid toilet areas becoming areas for social gathering.”
“Girls, especially teenagers, care about their appearance, even more so when they are at a school with boys, so to remove the mirrors is ridiculous,” said one mother, who did not wish to be named. “They should be allowed to keep their appearance up, even if it is a simple thing such as making sure they look presentable. Even for the boys, they might want to re-arrange their tie if it has gone a bit wonky.”
“I have a daughter who goes to the school and she deserves privacy when she goes to the bathroom,” she added. “Teenage girls go through changes, everyone knows that, it can be a delicate and embarrassing moment in their lives. It is just a gross breach of privacy.”
“Pupils are under enough pressure as it is in school,” said McGovern. “I do believe it will be worse for the girls — and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the students don’t want to go to the toilet while they are in school.”
However, there are several single-sex toilets still in the school.