Councillors hear of claims that boys at Jedburgh Grammar Campus 'waved sanitary products like flags'
Male pupils at Jedburgh Grammar Campus have been seen “waving sanitary products like flags” inside gender-neutral toilets at the school, it was claimed at a meeting today, (Thursday, November 25).
Boys have also been spotted urinating in sanitary bins at the school, it was alleged.
Additionally, girls at Kelso High School have been avoiding going to the toilet because of their unease at sharing the unisex loos installed there.
The allegations were raised by Galashiels and District councillor Harry Scott at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council.
Mr Scott said he had received the reports from “credible sources”.
He lodged a successful motion calling for pupils and staff at the new Galashiels Community Campus and Peebles High School to be consulted before any final decision is taken on also installing unisex loos at those premises.
It comes as debate rages on the rights and wrongs of gender-neutral toilets.
Opponents have raised concerns that women and children are more likely to be harassed and sexually assaulted in them compared to sex-segregated facilities.
But advocates argue that they eliminate confusion from members of the LGBTI (lesbian, bisexual, trans and or intersex communities) over going to the ‘wrong toilet’.
Mr Scott said: “I appreciate the sensitivities around this issue. All young people and adults need to feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings and I understand the need to consider minority groupings, which is one of the drivers of installing gender-neutral facilities.
"Young girls going through certain changes in their life are entitled to extra privacy as far as toilet facilities are concerned. They should not have to share with teenage boys or men.
"I have heard from credible sources, not Facebook, that at Jedburgh there have been instances of boys waving sanitary products like flags and urinating in sanitary bins.
"Several girls at Kelso High School refuse to use the neutral toilets, going several days without a toilet visit, with risks to their health that accompany that and with some choosing to go elsewhere if they are lucky enough to have that alternative.
"These young people need to feel safe and to be able to use the facilities without embarrassment or anxiety, whether caused intentionally or otherwise, and while I’m fully in agreement of providing support to minority groups that support should be provided without detriment to others.
"I am sure there are other solutions which could be found, why is it not possible to have male, female and gender-neutral toilets which would cater for the needs of everyone? Why can that not be achieved in our schools?.
"In the discussions I have taken part in on this particular topic, with members and officers, the only voices I’ve heard are men’s, with little or no input from women or girls, as far as I can make out. It is only right that women and girls get a fair hearing on the matter.”
The motion was seconded by Selkirkshire councillor Caroline Cochrane, who added: “It seems to be that unisex toilets in new buildings are being presented as a done deal and as an anti-bullying and inclusion measure. This puts anyone objecting to it in a difficult position.
"I would not feel comfortable sharing a bathroom with male colleagues and as a child I would have completely avoided a facility like this.
“During a 2019 consultation at a school in Wales it was revealed that girls were missing school because of period-shaming, others were going all day without drinking water so they didn’t have to go and some didn’t use the toilet because they feared sexual harassment.”
Jedburgh and District ward councillor Jim Brown said he was a “little bit perturbed” about the allegations regarding behaviour at Jedburgh Grammar Campus.
He said: “I spoke to the headteacher this week after reading Harry’s motion and she said there had not been any real issues. I’m very surprised that this is happening Harry, and I will certainly be taking it up with the headteacher.”