Parents and Walsall Academy at odds over new unisex 'open plan' toilet block
A Black Country academy has defended its decision to install an open plan toilet after criticism from parents and a local MP.
Walsall Academy had been criticised by the parent, who contacted the Express & Star and said pupils had been told that a toilet had been made unisex, without any consultation with parents.
The parent, who asked not to be named, also claimed that her daughter had been too scared to go to the toilet and other girls at the academy had been avoiding going to the toilet as well.
She said: "The main toilet has been done already but, in the summer holidays, the pupils have been told all of them will be changed to mixed sex. This is without any consultation with parents.
"I shared a post on Facebook as my daughter has now got a UTI from being too scared to go to the toilet (she is instructed to use that one if her classroom is closest to it).
"It was shared to Twitter and also picked up quite a bit of traction there.
"Since my post, lots of girls from the school have said they won't drink during the day anymore to avoid having to go into the toilets."
The row about the toilets has also been picked up by Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes, who posted a message on his Facebook page with a full letter he had sent to the headteacher of Walsall Academy, Simon Rogers.
Mr Hughes wrote: "Walsall Academy have recently introduced gender-neutral toilets.
"I have been contacted by parents and pupils who are very concerned and want the school to reconsider and I have to say I share their concerns and have written to Simon Rogers, headteacher at Walsall Academy, to ask him to investigate.
"I have also contacted Thomas Telford Multi Academy Trust and Walsall Council to investigate the matter.
"If your child attends Walsall Academy and you’re worried about this change, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure your voice is heard."
Walsall Academy posted its own response, saying that the new toilet block was an open plan toilet, which had been agreed with the elected student council members and said that if parents had concerns, the academy would discuss it with them.
A spokesman for Walsall Academy said: "During the Easter holidays, one set of toilets at Walsall Academy were refurbished as they are in an area of very high use and were 20 years old.
"The design of the new toilet block is ‘open plan’ and this was seen as a good thing by the elected student council members who had a hand in helping in the final designs.
"There are other traditional style toilets nearby which students are able to use if they wish.
"We have received concerns from a small number of parents and we have discussed this with them on an individual basis, and they have all been happy with our explanation."
The spokesman added: "We can only guess that the parent who contacted you has not contacted the academy first."