Building Code Causes OUSA To Scale Back Gender Neutral Toilets

Earlier this year, OUSA chose to make the toilets in the Clubs and Societies building on both the ground and first floors gender neutral.

In 2013 the Clubs and Socs Centre underwent extensive renovations, which included the ground floor toilets. However, in 2016, OUSA staff noticed that there were minor defects in the flooring of these toilets, which only continued to worsen over time.  

After consultation with the project management group, it was discovered that the flooring in the toilets would have to be ripped up and the waterproof membrane redone, a process that would cost a significant amount of time and money. OUSA decided to look into the structural changes necessary to introduce gender neutral bathrooms, to be completed at the same time as the renovations.

OUSA has fielded a range of both positive and negative feedback about their decision to make their toilets gender neutral, with most of the negative feedback being about urinals and privacy within the cubical.

The association has been limited by the building code, which is outlined in the Building Act 2004. They found that if they removed the urinals, they would be in breach of the minimum toilet requirements for the building. Also, it is required that unisex toilets must be in a self-contained compartment that offers full privacy, and also contains a toilet, basin and sanitary towel disposal equipment.

To make such vast changes to the toilets would have exceeded their budget. Currently, the new waterproof membrane has been laid and cured in these toilets, and the remaining renovations include reinstalling partitions and also new flooring. This project was to fix the defective flooring and was not an upgrade to facilities to create gender neutral toilets.

The renovations to the toilets will be completed by the end of August. Following this, the gender neutral toilets on both the ground and first floors will return to being gender specific with the exception of one toilet on the first floor that adheres to the legislative requirements. 

This article first appeared in Issue 17, 2017.
Posted 10:32am Sunday 30th July 2017 by Zahra Shahtahmasebi.