Dear Rishi Sunak – five teenage girls ask for single-sex toilets in schools

single sex toilets

Five teenage girls from schools across England have got together to write to the Prime Minister asking for the re-establishment of single-sex toilets in schools, for the privacy, dignity and safety of girls, and to state this unequivocally in the forthcoming trans schools guidance. The girls have used pseudonyms to protect their identities, which we also think sends a strong message about the situation for girls now in schools, that they are too afraid of being ostracised or bullied for holding gender-critical views. We publish their letter unedited here.

Dear Rishi Sunak

Single-sex facilities are an essential safeguarding feature, however we – five girls in secondary school – are concerned that this matter may be overlooked in the upcoming schools transgender guidance in place of a recommendation for a mixture of single-sex and mixed-sex toilets. If this is the case, it will severely lessen the safeguards set in place to protect girls and will place many at risk. We urge the Prime Minister, as the father of two young daughters, to ensure our rights are upheld in the upcoming schools transgender guidance. 

Secondary school can be an incredibly turbulent time for girls – our bodies are changing, the social relationships between boys are girls are different, and we may not feel entirely uncomfortable with everything happening to and around us. This can be an extremely distressing time, and single-sex spaces such as toilets can be a place for us to deal with stress in a private environment – but when you introduce the opposite sex into the equation, any dignity we retain is immediately obliterated.  

Periods, for instance, are something that solely girls experience at school. When dealing with menstruation, girls must have private spaces where we can sort this out with dignity, away from potential shaming from boys and the humiliation of having everyone know you’re on your period. However, boys continue to mock girls for menstruating, and this isn’t going to change until we start providing private single-sex toilets where we can deal with this away from boys.

In addition to this, there has been a significant lack of consultation with students when implementing mixed-sex toilets into schools. Most of the changes to school toilets were made between 2015 and the present day, when trans activism was at its peak, and usually during holidays with no consultation. As a result of this, the students who are now forced to use mixed-sex toilets didn’t even have a choice on whether or not this is the case, and it’s very clear that the majority are not happy with the current conditions.

A Sex Matters poll from July 2022 showed that a staggering 98% of UK respondents, especially women and girls, felt that single-sex spaces were important to them. However, female students are rarely asked for our views when deciding upon policies that affect us, and the results of this lack of communication are clear as daylight in our schools – students, girls especially, constantly attempt to avoid using mixed-sex toilets, finding it awkward and uncomfortable getting partially undressed in the vicinity of teenage boys.

At one of our schools, there have been multiple complaints from students – for instance, at a student council meeting, the pupils grouped together to ask for change; the boys explaining they found the feminine hygiene products “disgusting”, and the girls stating they felt afraid and upset being forced to use the same toilets as the boys, which have gaps at the top and bottom. However, the school refused to change anything, and to this day, half the toilets in that specific school remain mixed-sex. In another school, one of us started an online petition asking for single-sex spaces, however the petition, once reaching 12,800 signatures, was deleted by 

As well as this, safety is a constantly overlooked issue when providing mixed-sex rather than single-sex toilets in schools. The individuals who oversee these changes usually do so with the aim of being inclusive and equal – however, as we know from the recent example of three girls being sexually assaulted in mixed-sex toilets in Essex, this is anything but “inclusive” and “equal”. Mixed-sex toilets put girls at risk, since any space which has partially undressed girls in the vicinity of teenage boys is a disaster waiting to happen.

A Times investigation in 2018 showed the vast majority of reported occurrences of sexual assault, harassment, and voyeurism occurred in mixed-sex spaces rather than single-sex ones, and this has been the case in every investigation of its kind. Mixed-sex toilets are intimidating, humiliating, and downright dangerous – a school in Southampton even had protests over how boys attempt to photograph the girls if there are gaps at the top of bottom of the mixed-sex toilet stalls, kicking in the doors to film them. In many schools, girls are so uncomfortable with having to use the toilets there that they simply don’t go at school, risking a urinary tract infection.

As it is, there are already not enough toilets in many English schools, and by rendering them even more inaccessible due to them being mixed-sex, significant pressure is placed on students. Having a mix of single-sex and mixed-sex toilets only exacerbates the problems already raised, and it is not good enough for the government to fence-sit and watch on as students lose more and more of their hard-won single-sex spaces to activists who implement a mix of single-sex and mixed-sex facilities. There is no justifiable reason to introduce dangerous and uncomfortable spaces into schools, and the Government has a duty to ensure that toilets in schools are safe and dignified.

All of this – the safeguarding failures, the student backlash, the lack of dignity for girls – should clearly show that the right course of action when dealing with mixed-sex toilets at school is to remove them completely. There is no good reason to maintain a system that constantly places female students at a disadvantage, especially when it risks their physical safety as well. We urge the Prime Minister to specify that mixed-sex toilets do not belong anywhere in schools, due to the fact they do nothing but cast half the student’s rights down the drain. 


Cynthia, Hampshire 

Marilyn, Essex 

Sonja, Derbyshire

Olivia, Gloucestershire

Ellie, Merseyside

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Neil Oakley

    There should be male & female toilets not unisex

  2. JohnAllman.UK

    Simple solution: single-sex toilets for the students near the classrooms; mixed-sex toilets for the staff near the staff room; students allowed to walk the extra distance to use the staff toilets without giving a reason; see how the teachers like it.

    1. Viv Pointon

      Bilborough College in Nottingham introduced mixed sex loos for staff in their new build (2005). I don’t recall being consulted and many of us didn’t like it very much. I think the purpose was cost saving.

  3. Dawna

    It’s unacceptable for female children to not have a single biological sex space. Biological females (if we must distinguish) have different needs including sanitary bins and space to deal with sanitary needs that biological males do not. As a small percentage of biological females wish to identify as males then sanitary bins may be places in the male toilet/unisex and disability toilet. It is not acceptable for trans identifying males to use female toilets and I believe a toilet can only be unisex when it is a single use space and not a cubicle/multiple use space.

  4. Noodl

    When I was in school in the 90s, we had several incidences where boys entered the girl’s toilets and trashed them – one memorable incident, the boys emptied the sanitary products bins and stuck used pads all over the walls. If a boy spotted a pad or tampon in your bag whilst you had it open to get stuff out of it, they would make a HUGE deal about it, shouting something along the lines of “EWWW SHE’S ON! SHE’S GOT TAMPONS! URGH!”, and they would make up a catchphrase aimed at shaming the girl that they would chant every single time they saw her (one, for example, involved making “sex noises” that they’d clearly heard from pornography and going “mmmm ahhhhh Taaaa-pon, ohhhh yeah”).

    The boys took great delight in terrorising the girls, and that was WITH the protection of teachers being allowed to throw them out of the girls toilets because there were regulations in place that meant boys weren’t allowed in there. My heart hurts for what girls must be having to go through now that boys can enter those spaces without fear that a teacher will pull them out and tell them off, if I was a youth now, I’d be begging to be homeschooled to get away from this carte blanche for bullies to abuse girls that has been put in place by middle age fetishists who are destroying the safety of women and girls to legitimise their desire to cross dress.

  5. Charlotte M

    When my daughter’s old secondary school announced they were building 2 ‘gender neutral’ loo blocks, many of the girls claimed they’d be fine with it (it was cool to be performatively ‘progressive’), but when building had finished and the girls had to use it they hated it – even those who’d previously declared absolute approval. Interestingly, the boys also hated it, saying they felt really uncomfortable. My daughter’s year group were all 15 & 16yo at this point. Eventually the school took action and redefined the two blocks as single sex.

  6. Jo

    It’s well known in development charities that having single sex toilets is a prerequisite for girls to be able to access education (which is a human right). Why are we denying girls in the UK this human right?

    I know so many girls who stay off school during their period – and at other times don’t urinate all day risking urinary tract infections. They’re missing up to 1/3 of their education for the lack of single sex toilets.

    Given the Government’s obsession with attendance data you’d think they’d want to provide single sex toilets for the sake of increased attendance even if girls feeling safe doesn’t matter to them. It’s unacceptable. We’re not in Afghanistan for goodness sake, girls have a right to be able to access education – mixed sex toilets means they can’t.

    Will those girls in Essex ever feel safe to go to school again? Obviously not.

    It’s blatant discrimination against girls.

  7. Danielle Creaser

    Yes girls! I’m currently going through safegaurding on my daughters school as parents were not made fully aware of the fact they only offer mixed toilets bar a few disabled singles that children weren’t aware they could use not a single girl and boys toilet just for that sex this wasn’t public via website or newsletters ect the children from age 4 to 8 were used to it so most don’t even notice but my daughter brought it to my attention with how she’s seen boys banging on doors and peeping over ect this is why the genders should not mix in a toilet setting! It’s not practical and trying to brainwash children from age 4 to think this is normal is wrong in my instance the school has mislead me and schools seem to be favouring mixed toilets to push an agender over basic safegaurding our most vunrable !

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