A Case For Unisex Washrooms

A Case For Unisex Washrooms

Breaking away from the status quo, the interest in shared washrooms is steadily increasing. Not only are they becoming more common, but they bring with them a variety of advantages. Here, we explore those benefits and look at how unisex washrooms can be a great choice, particularly in the school environment.

Naturally, the idea of a unisex washroom can be uncomfortable to begin with. When we use the washroom we are usually seeking privacy and there have been concerns over how this comes into play in a shared wash space. However, the actual toilets and cubicles still maintain a users privacy just as they do in a single-sex washroom, the shared environment largely comes into effect in the washing area. Sometimes, it can actually be more interesting to ask ourselves why we segregated toilets in the first place. Home toilets and bathrooms are always shared, so why should the school or workplace be any different?

A Unified Space
Of course, one of the main advantages of a shared washroom is the fact that your facilities are merged into one easy to manage area, as opposed to two separate facilities.  From a general care and maintenance point of view, having them in one place makes for an easier and more manageable environment with regard to cleaning. Beyond that, and from the users perspective, the washroom can cease to be an intimidating area in itself and merge into the other shared, communal spaces at the school or workspace.

But What About Privacy?
As within many bars and nightclubs, the unisex or shared area is largely the area for wash basins and hand dryers. To maintain privacy for secondary and senior school students, full height cubicles are installed and in some instances segregated cubicle rooms come off of the washing area. In any event, the only time users will be mixing, or even see each other, is when they are washing their hands.

Teenagers Can Be Very Self Conscious…
Of course, it is well noted that teenagers can be incredibly self-conscious, particularly with all the physical changes that are going on in those tentative years. With this in mind, some may wonder if a mixed washroom environment is actually a good idea. However, these self-conscious issues arise in same-sex washrooms as well, not to mention in day to day activities during the school day.

What About Urinals?
Some people may be concerned that in the main wash area there are likely to be boys standing at urinals. What’s great about unisex washrooms is that urinals are seldom used and so the smells and the worry of a wet floor are negated. In instances where urinals are present, then they are housed in cubicles just like the toilets.

The Toilet Seat Issue
In cases where new unisex washrooms are being installed, one of the main concerns from female users, is the matter of males with poor aim, which leaves them not wanting to use the toilet seats. However, in existing unisex washrooms, this rarely becomes a problem and where users are overly concerned, crescent toilet seats could be installed. In actual fact, shared washrooms often have a positive impact on personal hygiene in the wash space, with students and staff actually being more respectful of other users.

Reduce Bullying & Vandalism
Bullying happens in and outside the washroom, but washrooms provide a closed environment away from prying eyes and is an area often cited as a bullying hotspot. Some of this can be reduced in a unisex wash space as, by the very nature of them, they’ll be busier. In the school environment, unisex toilets can be easier to monitor by teachers too. In some instances, glass or transparent doors are fitted to the main entrance of the hand wash area to facilitate this. Being a shared wash space, teachers on duty will not need to get a colleague of the opposite sex to help them check the other washroom. Clear doors to the washroom, or in some instance, no door at all, work to prevent the unnecessary, closed off areas where bullying and vandalism can thrive.

Making Savings
In the long term, unisex washrooms can save money. Not only are cleaning schedules and rotas made easier, but depending on the traffic numbers of your school or business, then you may not need quite so many wash basins and dryers. Maintenance will be consolidated, as will things like Legionella checks.

Supervision & Carers
If you have a young child, unisex toilets enable you to keep an eye on them and not be left with them using the facilities unsupervised. The same advantage can be pulled for carers who need to be close at hand in public toilet facilities. This benefit is largely beneficial in environments such as restaurants and shopping malls.

Helping With Transgender Issues
Shared washrooms also help with transgender equality and in busy commercial environments this is a growing area of concern. In the US, many office buildings have gone down the route of unisex toilets. With a shared environment, there is less discomfort for transgender users making the decision of which washroom to enter.

In Summary
The benefits of a shared washroom far outweigh the negatives. Users are potentially worried about privacy and hygiene issues, but with floor to ceiling cubicles and doors, user privacy is as good as, if not better than in same sex wash spaces. User hygiene is often better in these environments and routine cleaning is made easier and can be done more efficiently. It’s only the washing area that is shared, but this open environment can reduce bullying and is easier for teachers to monitor for misbehaviour. If you're about to undertake washroom refurbishment or install new facilities, then shared washrooms are certainly worth your consideration.

As always, our team are at the end of the telephone for all your queries and questions and have a wealth of knowledge they’re happy to share with you. So if you need some guidance, or would like to talk over your options, you can give them a call on 01202 650900.

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