DRAFT 221218: University apologises over gender neutral toilet rows

A univeristy has been forced to apologise after transgender students were told to use ‘gender neutral’ instead of men’s.

Students from Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) have called out a security staff for discrimination and transphobia.

Toby George amd TJ Wilson, both transgender, were using the men’s toilets at Christ Church students’ union in Canterbury when the incident happened.

The security guard allegedly said that the pair were not allowed to use the men’s toilets – only permitting access to women’s or the gender neutral toilets.

Toby George, a masters student for Criminal Policing  and  the LGBT officer for students’ union, has labelled the security guard’s actions as ‘discrimination against the LGBT’.

He explained: “After saying that we shouldn’t be using the men’s toilets, he then mentioned to see our ID.”

The security guard stated that his ‘boss’ instructed him to check student ID’s in case of any ‘suspicious behaviour’.

The postgraudate student added: “I said that if it was any male student walking through, he wouldn’t question it at all. It’s because we didn’t look typically masculine that IDs would need to be checked.”

To which the security guard responded: “No, it’s because you’re all part of the same sort of group.”

TJ said: “We asked him what he meant about ‘same sort of group’ and he didn’t reply. We think he meant it’s because we’re part of the LGBT+ group. What else would he mean?”

The pair then showed an official university document which states that students are allowed to use toilets that relates to their self-indentified gender. The document also mentions that decisions made by students regarding their choice of toilers should not be questioned nor challenged.

The security guard, who was not previously aware of the policy, reportedly took a picture of the document before dismissing the students.

University comment

The ‘transphobic’ incident has since caused an outrage amongst the Canterbury students – with mentions of protests at the SU.

Toby added: “A lot of students are outraged by it. I’ve heard of wanting to set up a protest by the SU toilets since the story has gotten around quite a bit.

The security company who provides the security staff for CCCU have sent a letter of apology to the students.

NGS security wrote in the apology letter: “On behalf of NGS Security we would like to offer our sincere  apologies over comments and actions that may have caused offense.

“Since we have been notified of changes to Canterbury Christ Church University’s Equality and Diversity policy we have extended training to all members of our staff. This is to ensure we do not encounter any issue of this kind again in the future. 

“Please accept our apologies on behalf of the management team and staff, the member of staff in question was acting in line with current instructions and working directives, no offense was ever intended.”

A spokesman for the Canterbury Christ Church University said: “Following a report regarding students’ use of toilet facilities within the Students’ Union (SU) building a meeting was arranged between the students and representatives of the University.

“The meeting was very productive, and a positive way forward was agreed between all who attended.

“This included all security staff (internal and external) being given up-to-date information on the use of toilets within the SU’s licensed premises and the wider University.

“It has now been clarified to all concerned that any person can use whichever toilet aligns with their gender identity.”

However, Toby hopes that the university truly recognises the trauma of the security guard’s mistake.

He said: “I’m hoping that the university supports its students and makes a change. We’re pretty thick skinned now but if it happened to anyone else, someone who just came out, having their identity shredded to pieces could have seriously messed up their self esteem.”

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Claisse Opulencia

Editor-in-Chief of Unified. Claisse is a third year multimedia journalism student at CCCU. Amnesty Media Award Finalist 2018, IRN Awards Runner-up 2018 and nominated for two SPA Awards 2018.

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