School children asked ‘should all toilets be unisex?’

A gender neutral bathroom sign in the US.

Schools across the UK are encouraging children to discuss transgender issues under a new programme from the Royal Institution.

The RI has issued a debate kit, free to all schools, which poses the question about gender-neutral toilets: “Should schools make all their toilets unisex?”

It features eight characters for roleplaying, including a transgender teenager and a concerned father.

Following its release in January it is expected that hundreds of schools will download the kit, which frames the gender conversation in scientific and sociological terms.

A statement explains: “The kit provides all you need to run a debate around unisex toilets and to help them understand the differences between one’s biological sex and gender identity.”

“The kit provides all you need help children understand the differences between one’s biological sex and gender identity.”

—The Royal Institute

Dom McDonald, the RI’s head of education, told i: “We tried quite hard to avoid this topic, but the more we thought about it, the more we thought it crystallised many questions around identity and genetics; nature versus nurture; and social, ethical and moral considerations.”

LGBT+ lessons to be mandatory in all schools

The debate kit is being rolled out amid a wider conversation on LGBT-inclusive education in schools.

An overwhelming majority of MPs voted in favour of new inclusive relationship and sex education (RSE) lessons on March 27, carrying the motion 538-21.

Starting from September 2020, primary-age children will learn about different types of families, including those with same-sex parents.

At secondary school, students will address more complex LGBT+ issues, including the damage that stereotyping can cause.

However, in Birmingham and Manchester, a string of schools have dropped a series of separate lessons which taught children about inclusivity after parent protests.

Andrew Moffat, assistant head of Parkfield school, Birmingham

Parkfield’s assistant head Andrew Moffat teaches a class (Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize/YouTube)

Parkfield Community School announced that it had suspended its No Outsiders programme indefinitely on March 13, following protests and debates in parliament.

The school’s head Hazel Pulley was forced to deny rumours that children were being taught about gay sex, adding that the stress of the situation had caused several teachers to fall ill.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has said that parents should not be allowed to veto the lessons. In a letter he wrote that children should “grow up understanding the value and importance of kindness and respect for others and themselves.”