North Rhine-Westphalia: "Toilet for everyone" still rather rare at NRW schools

In most schools, the toilets are separate for boys and girls.

North Rhine-Westphalia: "Toilet for everyone" still rather rare at NRW schools

In most schools, the toilets are separate for boys and girls. But what do young people who don't feel like they belong to one of these genders do? Only a few schools in NRW have neutral toilets.

Düsseldorf (dpa / lnw) - At schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, gender-neutral "toilets for everyone" are still a rarity. There are currently only a few unisex toilets in NRW, but the desire on the part of the students is "continuing to increase," says Laura Körner, head of the state student representation on request. So far, schools in Cologne, Essen, Düsseldorf and Troisdorf have toilets for young people who neither clearly identify as women nor as men.

The student representatives think it is important that schools do more for "all-gender toilets". Children and young people are taught at school from the outset "that the distinction between only two sexes is necessary for social life," criticizes Körner. "But the job of school should be to help young people discover themselves, and such forced categorization does the exact opposite."

In the past three to four years, the topic of the Divers toilets has gained in importance because young people today consciously have their coming out at school, says Frank Pohl, head of the NRW specialist advice center of the anti-discrimination network "School of Diversity". In schools, the question often arises as to which toilets trans or non-binary youth can go to. "Or they don't go to the bathroom at all." Pohl avoids the term "unisex" toilets, as this word is often associated with criticism of such "extra toilets" in social networks. He speaks of "toilets for everyone" or "all-gender toilets".

In the future there will be gender-neutral toilets much more often and as a matter of course, says Pohl. "When you get on a plane or a train, you have an all-gender toilet every day." With the toilet of the future, the only thing that will be pointed out is what is behind the door - a urinal or a toilet. But the question is no longer asked: "Who is going in?"

According to the city of Cologne, the construction of unisex toilets requires a decision by the respective school conference. In principle, the city welcomes such resolutions and supports them technically as far as possible. In the Helios schools in Cologne-Ehrenfeld, for example, "unisex toilets are conceptually desired in all areas for educational reasons". Exceptions are visitor toilets. In addition, there should no longer be any separate toilet areas for staff. However, the city points out that there is still no nationwide legal solution and no prototype. That's why Cologne wants to develop a "model toilet" that could be used in public buildings.

According to the city, there are toilets at various schools in Düsseldorf that are identified as diverse. For example, a teachers' toilet at the Leibniz-Montessori-Gymnasium was recently converted into a unisex toilet. There has also been a gender-neutral toilet at the European School in Troisdorf for a long time, as well as at the Heinz Nixdorf Vocational College in Essen.

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