Debate on gender-neutral toilets in Czech schools heats up in parliament

Politicians have been debating for months an end to the requirement to have separate toilets in state schools. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 13.10.2023 14:14:00 (updated on 14.10.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Could shared, non-gendered toilets be the future in Czech schools? This could well be the case, according to a draft decree from the Ministry of Education.

Inclusive, and a way to save money and space

Drafted earlier this year as part of an overarching goal to improve hygiene in schools, the proposed change serves “to protect the health of children,” according to the main initiator of the amendment to the law, member of the parliament (MP) Renáta Zajíčková.

The change in the law would remove the obligation for public schools to have separate toilets for both boys and girls. This will give schools the legal right to allow shared toilets, which would be more inclusive (and accepting of non-binary and transgender pupils) and save space and money.

“This trend [of shared, non-gendered toilets] is Europe-wide..there is rarely a distinction between girls' and boys' toilets. This act brings us closer to the European trend and the non-binary world."

MP Renáta Zajíčková

Several are voicing concerns

Not everyone is behind the change. Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek – part of the current government coalition behind the draft change – announced this week that he is not in full support of non-gendered toilets.

Do you support the introduction of non-gendered toilets in Czech schools?

Yes 25 %
No 72 %
Only if the majority of parents at a school support the idea 3 %
189 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

"I promised that I would not sign any decree unless I was convinced that we had reached some sort of consensus. I do not plan to sign it in the foreseeable future, we will continue to debate it,” said the minister. He also labeled the wording of the decree as “not perfect."

Shadow Minister of Education Jana Berkovcová also said this week that shared toilets “are a very unfortunate solution that causes psychological trauma, especially to girls.” She added they were unhygienic, and a step backward for Czechia. Berkovcová also said the government’s main motivation for introducing shared toilets was saving money, rather than promoting inclusivity. 

MP Ivana Mádlová similarly criticized the idea. Speaking in parliament this week, she asked the coalition: “Are you aware of the experience of communal toilets in other countries? They are hidden places for sexual violence, harassment, and bullying.”

On a global level, Canada, Iceland, Germany, France, and the UK are some of the first countries to introduce gender-neutral toilets in schools. However, the UK government recently announced plans to scrap the installation of shared toilets in order to provide people with more privacy and safety.

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