This must be the silly season, I decided after reading an article in another newspaper recently.
This must be the silly season, I decided after reading an article in another newspaper recently. This particular piece of stupidity was apparently dreamt up by East Sussex County Council and acted out in Harbour Primary School in Newhaven.
It seems that some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to install unisex toilets in place of separate toilets for boys and girls. It was reported that the headteacher, Christine Terrey, wanted all children in school to feel safe and be happy. She went on to say that she wanted families to feel informed about how effectively to support transgender and gender questioning by their children, preventing any transphobia at the school.
You could certainly forget about transgender and gender questioning, if I had young children at your school, Mrs Terrey. Far more to the point, I would be questioning the competence of any of you to be in charge of small children. In fact, I am absolutely mortified that anybody would suggest raising the question of transgender with primary children at all, as this is something that should be brought to their notice much later, when they are of secondary school age.
Quite apart from anything else, would anyone with half a brain think it's a good idea also to remove urinals for boys. Well, apparently Mrs Terrey does. She tells us that they no longer have urinals because they were quite unpopular with the boys. As you are so intent, Mrs Terrey, on preparing our youngsters for the real world, I suggest you reinstate urinals pronto - because your pupils will find they have to use them everywhere when they enter the real world.
Another fact is that - like it or not - most boys stand to pee and, as most males will attest, it is pretty revolting whenever you enter a toilet cubicle and we will only use them in dire emergency.
Are you seriously suggesting that girls from five to 11 should be subject to that degradation? Because, if you are, then shame on you.
As for the reported spokesman from East Sussex County Council who tells us that "unisex toilet blocks are considered preferable in terms of hygiene, maintenance, and pupil behaviour", he should be named and shamed. This twerp goes on to inform us that they feel this kind of toilet block, which complies with all national guidelines, is an appropriate solution for children of primary school age. They are not apparently aware of any cases of children being reluctant to use the new toilets. He waffles on to tell us the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
In my view, Harbour Primary School should revisit their very own "Vision and Ethos" guidelines. They begin by stating: "We share a determination that all children will achieve the very best that they can in our welcoming, creative, inclusive community. We give every child every chance every day." They go on to say the school is "committed to the promotion of our children's spiritual, moral, social, cultural and academic development valuing all children, parents and staff equally as individuals".
That being the case, no doubt these same unisex toilets are being used by staff and pupils alike. I also sincerely hope that East Sussex County Council have installed unisex gender-friendly cubicles and removed urinals from all their own buildings. I am sure they will have led by example and not left the pioneering to five-year-old toddlers.
I wouldn't, however, like to wager too much on that one would you?
Newhaven has been neglected for far too many years by East Sussex County Council in favour of other areas - in particular, Lewes. While investment is undoubtedly needed for Newhaven, I doubt unisex toilets would be top of most residents' wish list.
A couple of hundred years ago such silly suggestions would have resulted in a spell in the stocks. Now there's an idea...