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Kingston University to trial gender-neutral toilets at Penrhyn Road campus

By Feb 2, 2017
RV Officer Patrick Tatarian is working with the university to install gender-neutral toilets. Photo: Sunniva Knutsen

A gender-neutral toilet trial is set to be introduced to Penrhyn Road campus this term, according to the Roehampton Vale Officer.

Patrick Tatarian, 22, is working with the university on installing gender-neutral toilets on Kingston University’s campuses if the trial should prove successful.

Tatarian said: “The trial is on its way but the exact date is not finalised. We don’t know how we wish to lay it out yet. But it is going to happen.”

The University´s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team is looking to convert the two single-occupancy toilets on the ground floor of the LRC and the single-occupancy ones on the first floor of the Main Building.

The Union of Kingston Students (UKS) and EDI are currently working with the Estates team to work out how the toilets will be laid out to make as many LGBT+ and non-binary students as possible feel comfortable with using them.

Tatarian said: “You can easily convert a single occupancy toilet to a gender-neutral one by just changing the sign on the door and basically duplicating the facilities. It would be low-cost and effective.”

A spokesperson for Kingston University and the Student Union said: “A range of possible options are currently being examined for how best to move ahead with the proposed trial.

“This will include consulting students around the design of the signage for the gender-neutral toilets during the trial.”

The trial is planned to take place this term, but may be postponed to over the summer depending on external factors.

KUSCO, the company in charge of the toilet facilities, will need some time to reconstruct some of the toilets.

“In fairness there is an issue with the university, in terms of roadblocks, because things will happen but it will take ages because of the bureaucracy culture that happens within the university,” Tatarian said.

The members of the Kingston University LGBT+ Society welcomed the project, and it is a motion they have been passionately fighting to pass.

Nate Caruso-Kelly, 20, the Transgender Officer of the LGBT+ Society said: “I think it’s a pretty basic step. Many people might not think of going to the toilet as a stressful experience.

“But the fear of being attacked, though it’s not likely here at campus, it’s difficult to live with.”

The LGBT+ Society president Paris Noonan, 19, said: “When you don’t identify as either male or female, having to choose a gender just to go the bathroom is just horrible.”

The LGBT+ Society has discussed the issue at meetings, and has always thought it would be a good thing to have gender-neutral toilets at the university.

“It’s a really good idea. I hope it [the trial] goes well and that it will be safe to use for transgender and non-binary people,” Paris Noonan said.

The society president said that they will work with the LGBT+ Society throughout the trial: “It is really good way to give our input and advice so that we could make the best out of it.”

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