STUDENTS
18/10/2013 06:32 BST

Could Sussex University Be The First To Introduce Gender Neutral Toilets?

University Looks To Introduce Gender Neutral Toilets
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University Looks To Introduce Gender Neutral Toilets

A university could become the first in the country to introduce gender neutral toilets for its transgender students after a long fought campaign by the student union.

Sussex University is in talks with its student body (SUSU) to implement the facilities, a move which so far has been welcomed by many students.

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Sophie van der Ham, welfare officer at SUSU, told The Huffington Post UK she wanted to create a "safer environment" for transgender students.

"Trans* people are often marginalised in society and we think this is utterly wrong. Gender neutral toilets create a safer environment for those who don't fit into neat gender categories.

"At the student's union we aim be progressive and inclusive and we feel we can lead in Brighton and Hove as well as start the conversation nationally.

"We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from students and hope to see this reflected in wider society."

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Transgender students have reported facing various barriers on campus, including attitudes of peers, lack of understanding by security staff and university forms requiring students to declare their gender "male" or "female" - with no other options.

In 2012, Europe's largest study of transgender people revealed a shocking 84% had considered committing suicide due to being bullied and socially isolated. As the largest participation group of the Trans Mental Health Study was the 18 to 25 years category, this is not a statistic to be ignored.

One participant in the research said: "We need to start helping trans teenagers. This would have helped me and probably prevented me from attempting suicide."

A University of Sussex spokeswoman said: "The subject has been raised by the Students' Union and the university is in discussion about it - but there's not a lot else we can say at this stage."

Last year, Glasgow University announced its plans to introduce unisex toilets across campus, in order to "break down stigma faced by those who do not conform to a straightforward concept of gender". Although some gender neutral facilities were installed, they are not present throughout the university.

Sheffield University's student union has also introduced unisex toilets, however these are only present in the union.