By Taryn Dryfhout
Recently installed all-gender toilets at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) are receiving backlash by campaigners who argue the toilets are irresponsible and unsafe.
Earlier this year AUT, equipped its campuses with over 165 all-gender toilets to cater for gender diverse people.
The change to its bathroom facilities was part of a number of changes being implemented by the university in an effort to support gender diverse students.
However, the AskMeFirst campaign, which was established under Family First in February, has contacted a number of female AUT students who have raised concerns over the decision, claiming they were never consulted before changes were put in place and felt unsafe about speaking up once the toilets had been installed.
“Students have a fundamental right to bodily privacy. Being around a biological male, in a bathroom or changing room, for women and girls who have been a victim of sexual or physical violence can be a trigger for them,” AskMeFirst spokesperson Rachel Mckenzie says.
“The need for privacy in bathrooms and changing rooms for vulnerable young girls also becomes even more important in light of the emotional and physical changes we experience as women.”
Two Pacific Island students have also come forward claiming that the change is culturally insensitive and inappropriate.
Campaigners are also raising questions about the toilets chosen for the change, claiming female toilets were changed to all-gender, while the male toilets remain available only for male use.
In a statement, AUT say it is focused on providing safe facilities for all of our students.
“With this in mind we have allocated a number of toilets as all gender. An even larger number of female only and male only toilets are also available so students can select their preference.”