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Fri Jan 30 08:22:59 SAST 2015

Unisex loos are public torture for a frustrated mum

Jackie May | 25 February, 2013 00:37

There is a very silly and growing trend towards unisex toilets in public places. Remember Ally McBeal, the 1990s US legal comedy-drama television series?

All those young, good-looking lawyers used the unisex office bathroom for flirting and sexual encounters and, of course, for thickening the plot. Creating a buzz around flirting and sexiness is perhaps why new drinking spots in and around our cities are building these fashionable gender-neutral loos.

There is another reason for this growing trend. The city council of Brighton in Britain has "scrapped male and female public lavatories in favour of 'gender-neutral' facilities so as not to 'alienate' the transgender community", reports The Telegraph.

That's a very sensitive and politically correct response to the city's transgender population which doesn't want to be defined by its gender.

For me, the only advantage of unisex bathrooms would be taking my underage son for a wee without having to sneak him into the women's toilet. I hate him going to the men's toilets on his own. I don't know how many paedophiles might be lurking in the enclosed space, waiting to pounce on my boy. But the older he gets, the more tricky it's becoming. I have no idea at what age I will allow him into the men's toilets alone. Thirty perhaps?

My issue around unisex bathrooms, since I am not looking for a chance sexual encounter, is more about smells, splashes and privacy.

When I was growing up, I worried about spiders and snakes when I went out to use the long-drop at the back of our house. But now, in my home, which I share with two pretty girls, a growing boy and a short-sighted man, I have to worry about unwelcome drips. In my adult years I've become very fussy about where and how my housemates rid themselves of their body waste.

Baby wee is one thing, but as they get older, children's urine must be disposed of in the allocated bowl. We're over potty training and wetting beds, and my patience and tolerance about missing the bowl have disappeared.

I don't blame my girls. They're well-placed not to miss. It's the boys with whom I'm struggling.

So, my appeal to city planners and architects is not to be seduced by this trend. If I can't have a girls-only loo at home, please can I have them in our public spaces.


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