It has been announced that the new Limerick Educate Together Secondary School, set to open in September 2021, will have gender-neutral toilets to accommodate for transgender and gender non-conforming students. The new school to be built in Castletroy, Limerick, will take on 1,000 students as well as creating 100 jobs and will be fitted with gender-neutral toilets on each of its three floors.
The school’s principal, Eoin Shinners, spoke about the decision to introduce what he calls “universal” toilets saying; “It’s very much part and parcel of the school and reflective of the society we live in. What we push on our students is acceptance. Accept them for who they are without drawing particular attention on an aspect or an issue.”
Furthermore, he explained the layout of the new facilities, hoping to ease any possible anxieties amongst parents with the relatively new territory of shared gender toilets in Irish secondary schools. Shinners described the gender-neutral toilets saying that all cubicles will be “stand-alone” and that the “only part of the student toilets which [will be] communal are wash-basins.”
He went on to say that for those parents worried about the mixing of genders without teacher supervision that the sinks will be set up so they are “back-to-back and there’s a screen visible from the corridor.” Shinner explained that this will ensure only one student will enter a cubicle at a time while also make students who “identify differently” feel more comfortable within the school.
The new Limerick Educate Together Secondary School is not the only school which has introduced more inclusive facilities, with many secondary schools and colleges across the country also creating gender-neutral facilities for their trans and non-binary students.
Similarly, some primary schools have also made moves to be more inclusive such as St Brigid’s National School in Greystones, Co Wicklow who not only introduced a gender-neutral uniform policy but also announced that they would be phasing out gender-specific toilets in favour of gender-neutral facilities school-wide.
As well as this, five soon-to-be-built Irish secondary schools have put in their own requests to the Department of Education, seeking permission to introduce similar facilities in their school. The Limerick Educate Together Secondary School set to open in 2021 is estimated to cost €19m and will include almost 60 classrooms as well as a sports hall, fitness suite and large outdoor learning courtyard.
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