- 2 Apr 2019
Date received: 3 Mar 2019
Date responded: 29 Mar 2019
You asked a range of questions relating to gender neutral toilets, following on from our reply to your earlier FOI request (reference – 19/00361)
You mention that the rationale for the removal of several separate sex facilities and replacing them with mixed sex/unisex toilets is on p.77 of the Monitoring Report. It seems this was prompted by a single staff member's attendance on a course - is this correct? Was there any assessment of what demand there was in the organisation for such facilities and how staff felt about reduced access to single sex facilities? Stonewall which ran the course has campaigned for the removal of exemptions on access to single sex spaces from the Equality Act - https://www.stonewall.org.uk/women-and-equalities-select-committee-inquiry-transgender-equality - was any consideration given to this and how that might influence their guidance on this issue?
In the EQIA the protected characteristics 'sex' and 'gender reassignment' have been examined together, despite these being separate and conflicting characteristics. Can you tell me on what basis this was done, and by whom the decision was taken? It looks as though no consideration has been given to the protected characteristic of 'sex', with references only to 'gender' - have they been grouped together in an effort to make this less apparent?
It doesn't look as though any consultation about the mixed sex/unisex toilets was undertaken with external women's organisations, or with women's representatives within the Scottish Government, just the LGBTI network - is that the case?
The answers to your questions are:
Q.1 It seems this was prompted by a single staff member’s attendance on a course – is this correct?
The Scottish Government intranet article at Annex A describes the Scottish Government approach to championing diversity and its focus on inclusion and fairness, this provides context for the approach toward gender neutral toilets which has developed over time.
Q2 – Was there any assessment of what demand there was in the organisation for such facilities and how staff felt about reduced access to single sex facilities?
The EQIA - as previously provided to you - explored the provision of gender neutral toilets and made clear that their introduction provided choice to people, ensuring Scottish Government buildings could be more responsive to individual’s needs. The EQIA was subject to consultation across the Scottish Government.
Q3 – see Annex B
Q4 – In the EQIA the protected characteristics of ‘sex’ and ‘gender reassignment’ have been examined together despite these being separate and conflicting characteristics.
(a) Can you tell me on what basis this was done? The characteristics were considered separately but reported together.
(b) And by whom the decision was taken? See Annex B
Q5 – It doesn’t look as though consultation about the mixed sex/unisex toilets was undertaken with external women’s organisations or with women’s representatives within the Scottish Government, just the LGBTI network – is that the case?
As well as the Council of Scottish Government Unions – which represents a significant propotion of Scottish Government employees - the EQIA was issued to the following networks for consideration:
LGBTI Allies Network
ME/ CFS Network
Mental Health and Wellbeing Network
Race and Equality Network
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. The reasons why we don’t have the information are explained in Annex B to this letter.
I am able to provide the following background information outwith the FOISA process, which should hopefully be of use to you. Diversity and equality considerations underpin all of the Scottish Government’s employment policies and practices. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring inclusion and fairness to all of our colleagues. Providing gender neutral toilet facilities where appropriate, in addition to male and female toilets, forms part of this.
We recognise that sex is a distinct protected characteristic and the EQIA did not seek to conflate the terms in such a way that would undermine the protected characteristic. The EQIA is a living document and in any update to the EQIA we will make the distinction clear to avoid any possible confusion.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION - ANNEX B
The Scottish Government does not have the information
The Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have asked for:
Q. 3 Stonewall has campaigned for the removal of exemptions on access to single sex spaces from the equality act – was any consideration given to this and how that might influence their guidance on this issue?
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. We don’t hold any information to suggest that consideration was given to the stonewall campaign.
An exemption applies
Q4 (b) – who took the decision [regarding the EQIA]
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) applies - personal data the disclosure of which would contravene data protection principles. As noted previously the EQIA was subject to internal consultation with a range of networks and groups.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House