There has been much speculation about the expectations we have for the use of toilets at our meetings.
Below is the explanation we gave to Norwich Quakers when they asked us to clarify our position:
“There is no specific law relating to the provision of single sex toilets for adults.
However, provisions in the Equality Act 2010 allow for the application of single sex exemptions if it is “a proportionate response to a legitimate aim”.
Our position on the use of toilets is to ensure that everyone should have access to facilities that they feel safe and comfortable in.
This paragraph from the Quaker Life Central Committee (QLCC) draft discussion paper is in line with this position:
“We note that shared spaces such as toilets, changing and sleeping areas can cause anxieties and concerns for people. We believe that no-one should have to use shared spaces which do not feel comfortable to them. In a context of systemic male violence, particularly towards women, we are especially minded to examine the potential adverse impact of any policy on women and girls and to make efforts to remedy this. All Quaker premises and events ought to provide facilities which everyone feels safe and comfortable using. The usage of these facilities must be clearly defined and communicated and must offer choice for the individual.”
We ask attendees to use the toilets relating to their sex.
There are many reasons why women in particular expect to access single sex provision and, as a women’s rights group, we feel it is important to demonstrate the right women have to establish clear boundaries.
However, this became a particular priority after representations made to us by female survivors of sexual and domestic violence attending our events who were distressed at sharing toilets with people they experienced as male. As statistics show that 1/5 UK women have suffered sexual violence, this is a matter of real concern to us.
We therefore make sure that the venues we book offer either single occupancy unisex toilets as well as those designated male and female such as is available at the Norwich Quaker’s House.”