Oxford college says no to ‘gender neutral’ toilets

An Oxford college has rejected calls to introduce ‘gender neutral’ toilets over concerns they would threaten women’s safety.

Students at Somerville College struck down a motion to introduce the toilets, arguing that they would have caused an increase in cases of female harassment.

A number of students said they did not want the vote to be made public for fear their peers would label them ‘transphobic’.


Concerns were also raised that students would feel “awkward” about sharing a toilet with members of the opposite sex.

One student said that the move would be “overlooking the practicalities” to make those who describe themselves as ‘non-binary’ feel more accepted.

Another said: “Many women have had experiences of harassment and would feel uncomfortable with this, probably a higher percentage of people than those who want a gender neutral toilet.”

The motion had been put forward by the college’s LGBTQ officer, Eilidh Wilson.

Compelled speech

Last year, The Sunday Times reported that students at the University of Oxford could be expelled if they fail to use gender neutral pronouns.

Under the university’s behaviour guidelines, students and staff are required to use the pronouns ‘zie’ or ‘ey’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ when referring to transsexual people.

The guidelines, which have been in place for three years, state that “deliberately using the wrong name or pronoun in relation to a transgender person” may amount to harassment.

Persistently referring to someone’s “gender identity history” is also a breach of the guidelines. This could result in disciplinary action, including dismissal for staff members, or an expulsion for students.

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