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Christian school in Wales draws backlash over new 'gender neutral' toilets

(Reuters/Lucy Nicholson/Files)A gender-neutral bathroom is seen at the University of California, Irvine in Irvine, California, in this file photo taken September 30, 2014.

A Christian school in Wales is facing criticism from parents following the installation of new hotel-style toilets designed to be accessible to both boys and girls.

Last week, the Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales High School in Cardiff announced on Twitter that it has completed the installation of the gender neutral cubicle toilets.

"Welcome to our new 'open plan' gender neutral toilet facilities in A block. These are in addition to existing boys/girls toilets...we intend to upgrade the boys/girls/staff facilities to same standard (remaining separate) over coming 12-18 months. Thanks for support," the school wrote.

The Twitter post included a photograph showing seven toilets inside cubicles and a sink in the center, which has been designed in the style of a water fountain.

The announcement drew backlash from parents who expressed their concerns over the new gender neutral toilets.

"This work has cost an absolute fortune that could've funded the children's education in a far more beneficial way," said Ian Beesley, according to Metro.

"Are the teachers specifically trained and willing to give up their break times for the necessary supervision that is going to be required?" Richard Morgan asked.

The school, which has pupils aged 11 to 18, explained that the decision to install the new toilets was "purely practical" and was not intended to be political.

"The primary aim is to ensure all students have access to the best possible facilities. For us, this has not been about gender," said head teacher Marc Belli.

Belli explained that the students have already divided each side of the open-plan toilets. He noted that the boys have already gravitated to the cubicles on the left side of the corridor, while the girls have been drawn to the toilets on the right.

He said that there had been no significant investment in the school's toilet facilities for years. He pointed out that the facilities have doors that run from the floor to the ceiling, and explained that the school officials felt that it was appropriate to say that each cubicle should be made available for all as opposed to separating them by gender.

The head teacher also noted that there are other toilets at the school which are gender specific. He said that he is hoping to upgrade the other facilities to a similar standard over the next 12 to 18 months, but there are no plans to make the toilets gender neutral.

The U.K.'s Department of Education has no specific policies regarding gender, and state that the schools are free to make decisions on what facilities they provide, including whether to provide unisex or gender neutral toilets.

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