unisex bathroom
© Jonathan Drake / Reuters
Plans for secondary school students to share gender neutral toilets at Brisbane's newest secondary school have been scrapped following severe public backlash.

The Australian Department of Education confirmed last month that all toilets the £42 million secondary school would be unisex, with the exception of two male and female toilets in change room facilities.

The move caused serious backlash from parents all over Australia, one of whom, Michelle Mitchell, told the Sunday Mail: "We already know some really bad things happen to kids in bathroom areas of schools - bullying, sexting, kids recording on mobiles, these things already go on when they're just within their own sex, and then you're adding in an extra element"

"Being a teenager is a really big time of change, for boys and for girls, and kids have a right to feel safe."

In response to the deep concerns, Queensland's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk overruled the DoE and reversed the decision, having raised concerns that boys and girls should have their own private toilet facilities.

Fortitude Valley State Secondary College was set to become the first school in Queensland without specifically designed boys' and girls' separate bathrooms. The school will welcome its foundation Year 7 students on January 28.

Education Minister Grace Grace said 'all necessary arrangements' had been made to coincide with the reversed decision.

"This includes a change to make separate, gender-specific toilets for boys and girls available. There are also specific toilets for students with a disability.

"Separate boys and girls change rooms with toilets had already been factored into the design of the school."

Schools in Western Australia were urged earlier this year to include 'gender-neutral toilet options' and in a bid to stop discrimination against transgender students.

The recommendation from Inclusive Education WA, a specialised resource for schools in the state, aims to create a 'more inclusive environment' for transgender and gender diverse students.


The department said that the original move met contemporary design standards in relation to accessibility, inclusivity, privacy and safety, when plans were confirmed in December.

Opposition education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie welcomed the reversal, fearing that the 'very bad' original move to completely neutral bathrooms could be a 'recipe for disaster'.

He said: "How about instead of this PC rubbish the government spend more time helping our teachers with workload issues, air con our schools, declutter the curriculum, fix the school maintenance backlogs and better support our teachers in regional and remote Queensland. Labor have its priorities all wrong."


But many others couldn't understand the fuss.

One responded: "Nearly every accessible facility for disabled people is a unisex facility, and, last time I looked, nearly every household, you know where these kids live, has unisex toilet facilities! There are bigger issues than this that deserve attention."

Fortitude Valley State Secondary College is the first inner-city state school to be built in Brisbane in over half a century.

The new school will also push back class times to avoid traffic chaos, with students urged to walk or cycle to school to ease congestion in the inner-city.