’Terribly dangerous’: Fury over unisex toilets

 

EDUCATION Minister Grace Grace was asked to explain to ministers the decision to install unisex toilets at a new Brisbane high school after angry constituents complained of the "ridiculous action".

A right-to-information request by the Opposition has captured emails between minister's staff, journalists and concerned voters in the days before and after The Sunday-Mail revealed Fortitude Valley State Secondary College was to become Queensland's first school with shared bathrooms.

"I was absolutely shocked to read the explosive news in the Sunday Mail," wrote one constituent to Housing Minister Mick de Brenni.

Education Minister Grace Grace (left) and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AAP Image/Attila Csaszar
Education Minister Grace Grace (left) and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AAP Image/Attila Csaszar

"Please be extremely careful to eliminate, from your extensive staff, the elements responsible for implementing such a terribly dangerous course of action."

A female constituent told Transport Minister Mark Bailey she was concerned about misbehaviour, violence, sexual harassment and bullying around the toilets, as well as severe embarrassment as girls were forced to deal with monthly mishaps at communal sinks.

Both minister's staff forwarded the complaints to Ms Grace's office, asking for a response.

Ms Grace also received several complaints, including how it was "disaster waiting to happen".

"How long will it take for students to invent their version of the Mile High Club?" a female voter wrote.

The Fortitude Valley State Secondary College opened to Year 7 students this year and will be open to all students in 2023.
The Fortitude Valley State Secondary College opened to Year 7 students this year and will be open to all students in 2023.

"I hope that you are installing condom vending machines so that students can practice safe sex in the lockable transgender toilets."

Another told the Minister to "get a grip and a reality check" and dump the "ridiculous" plan.

"It is time to get real and focus on the falling standards of our education and stop this social engineering," the letter read.

The emails show Ms Grace authorised a media statement defending the now-reversed decision to install 62 floor-to-ceiling, unisex cubicles as a "contemporary design standard" on the Friday before The Sunday-Mail's December story.

The Premier's media team were told of the pending story on the Saturday - the day before publication.

The new state high school in Fortitude Valley under construction. (AAP image, John Gass)
The new state high school in Fortitude Valley under construction. (AAP image, John Gass)

"Unisex toilets aren't a new concept. They are commonplace in places like parks and cafes," Ms Grace's office wrote to the Premier's.

"The school's toilets are in line with other new vertical school models around Australia.

"Privacy of the toilets at FVSSC will be the same as the toilet in your own house."

But Ms Palaszczuk told media on the Sunday: "Look, that was the first time I heard about it."

"I am happy to talk to the Department about that. I think in our high schools we should have facilities available for both boys and girls," she said.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the documents were embarrassing for the Government and disturbing for parents.

"It's astonishing that Labor has spent so much time and money defending unisex toilets when our schools face genuine problems like falling NAPLAN scores," she said.

The Sunday-Mail revealed last month the gender-neutral toilets had been scrapped.



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