Senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes calls for gender-neutral toilets in schools to help trans kids

Tory MP Caroline Nokes speaks at the 2022 PinkNews Awards.

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes has said schools should have gender-neutral toilets to stop trans and non-binary youth being “incorrectly gendered”.

Speaking to PinkNews, Nokes – who is chair of the women and equalities select committee – called on the Conservative Party to be “inclusive” as she spoke out against anti-trans “culture wars”.

The Romsey and Southampton North MP said she wanted to make it “absolutely explicit” that she champions “both women’s rights and trans rights”.

“We’ve done some fantastic work on the [women and equalities] committee supporting trans people, recognising very difficult circumstances that they face, whether it’s in employment, in education, in work, and that we can be there as allies to support them,” Nokes said.

Nokes also stated that human rights aren’t a “zero-sum game”, adding: “It is absolutely possible to support both trans rights and women’s rights.”

She continued: “I never shy away from using the word ‘woman’ and I don’t think we should, but equally we have to recognise that trans people need to have their rights defended. They need our support. 

“They’re among the most marginalised people in our communities and it’s absolutely imperative that those of us who believe that they have their rights should be prepared to stand up for them, and I hope that I’ve done that over the course of my time as chair of the equalities committee and I’ll continue to do so.”

Gender neutral toilets

Caroline Nokes went on to call on the government to introduce gender-neutral toilets in schools, to make life easier for trans and non-binary youth.

“I think there are some real challenges around our schools… I want every young person to be able to have access to education where they will be supported, where they will not be incorrectly gendered, where they will not be forced to use the incorrect toilets.”

She added: “I hate the fact that we keep coming down to talking about toilets at every opportunity, but it’s absolutely right that there should be inclusive, gender-neutral loos in our schools and that’s something that I personally will stand up for enormously.”

Elsewhere, Nokes said she has “real fears” that trans people’s rights aren’t being respected in the healthcare system.

Caroline Nokes (L) with winners of the Public Sector Equality Award at the PinkNews Awards 2022.

Caroline Nokes (L) with winners of the Public Sector Equality Award at the 2022 PinkNews Awards. (PinkNews)

She also explained why she sees support for trans rights as a core pillar of conservatism.

“Conservatism to me is about allowing people to live their lives as they wish to be able to achieve whatever they want to.

“It’s about equality of opportunity and it’s about making sure that we stand up for the most marginalised in society. To me, that’s a very conservative principle and I am certainly prepared to do that and have that discussion within my party.”

She also opened up about what it was like to attend her first-ever Pride event in the summer, saying it “really mattered” to her that they had a “strong Conservative presence” to support the LGBTQ+ community.

“I don’t want there to be some horrendous culture war, I think that’s completely unnecessary, I think it’s unconservative, and my message to members of my party is that we need to be tolerant and we need to be inclusive,” she said.

Government needs ‘to pull together’, says Caroline Nokes

Caroline Nokes made her comments at the 2022 PinkNews Awards, supported by joint headline sponsors Lloyds Banking Group and United Airlines, where she presented the Public Sector Equality Award to North East Ambulance Service.

Speaking to PinkNews the night before Truss announced that her premiership was coming to a premature end, Nokes expressed her disappointment.

“Nobody benefits from political parties that are at war with themselves. We need to have a Conservative Party that decides to pull together and act with the country’s interests at its heart.”