A MEON Valley school which has introduced to gender neutral toilets say they were “victims in a sense of Covid” as they have been allocated to a whole year group.

Swanmore College unveiled the refurbished block on Tuesday which sparked backlash from parents and a mixed reaction from the community.

The initial post from the school said: “The toilet renovation in W Block is now finished. They will be our first gender neutral toilets for pupils. They include 1 cubicle for “boys”, 1 cubicle for “girls” and 3 non-specified.

“There is an open plan entrance lobby with the communal areas covered by CCTV.”

Now the school has said that it was the idea of its Pupil Voice to brand the toilets as gender neutral and would have only been used by a small number of pupils.

Business manager Chris Loveday told the Chronicle: “At the moment there is a number of registered genders and rather than exclusively having just male and female toilets through Pupil Voice a number of pupils have requested gender neutral toilets, the idea being they didn’t want to identify as male or female.”

However, following the coronavirus outbreak the school has decided to allocate a set of toilets to each year group.

Mr Loveday explained that due to the locations of year groups in the New Road site, this toilet was the only one large enough to suit Year 9 and it has been decided that gender neutral loos will be used by everyone.

He added: "We are victims in a sense of the Covid situation in that most students could go to alternative toilets, but that decision has been taken away from us due to the current situation."

Some parents were angered that the college did not carry out a consultation to gain their views before going ahead with the plan, but the school says under the Equality Act it felt it did not need to.

One mother said: “As a Mum of both boys and girls, boys are understandably incredibly immature at this age (well mine are) and do like to prank and tease, it would be awful for anyone to feel uncomfortable, and will undoubtedly result in “sick days” because girls aren’t going to be wanting to attend school at their time of the month, if there is nowhere they feel safe to change at this time.”

To which Mr Loveday has said: “We would like to think that pupils are mature enough and we will certainly address any situation that arises.”

Mr Loveday said that college is aware of other schools in the area which have introduced the gender neutral toilets.