Department for Education: Sanitation

Department for Education written question – answered on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consultation they undertook, and with whom, before they decided to convert the communal visitors’ area toilets in Sanctuary Buildings to unisex toilets; and what responses they received.

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, since the conversion of the communal visitors’ area toilets in Sanctuary Buildings to unisex toilets, they have canvassed views on the effects of that change; and if so, what response they received.

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what toilet facilities they offer in Sanctuary Buildings to visitors who, by reason of (1) custom, (2) religion, or (3) any other reason, are unwilling to use unisex toilet facilities.

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they decided to convert the communal visitors' area toilets in Sanctuary Buildings to unisex toilets.

Photo of Lord Agnew of Oulton Lord Agnew of Oulton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

As part of the department’s actions to make the office environment as inclusive as possible, it introduced a series of gender-neutral toilets. This followed consultation with a range of staff networks representing individuals with different ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexualities and disabilities.

The department endeavours to cater for a diverse variety of visitors to all our offices. The London office receives the most visitors, and for their comfort, we provide toilets in the waiting area in reception. However, there is limited space. To make the area as accessible as possible to all potential visitors, there is a disabled toilet and two gender-neutral toilets. The gender-neutral toilets are walled floor to ceiling cubicles with a shared hand washing and access area.

Visitors who may not wish to use, or may feel uncomfortable using gender-neutral facilities are able to use other toilets in the building. They are available to visitors once they have passed through security or, if they are unable to wait, a member of the reception or security team can escort them to a single sex toilet. The facilities available in London include both gender-neutral toilets and those specifically for each sex; with single sex toilet blocks on all floors and a further 20 gender neutral toilets across five floors.

The department has not yet canvassed views on changes to the toilet facilities in the London office, as the department is about to commence a major refurbishment and upgrade to all its mechanical, electrical, water and drainage systems. As part of this, the department will consult with its staff on toilet facilities.

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