Question 24 – Are there any impacts on equality?
22 respondents provided their views on potential equality impacts within the consultation.
Comments provided on potential equality impact represented a range of views both acknowledging positive progress but also highlighting areas for further consideration.
Local authority and trade union respondents were more likely to state that the proposals within the consultation had taken steps to reduce inequalities.
The potential removal of gender specific toilets was viewed as a benefit to all pupils who do not identify with their biological gender and this was to be welcomed, it was also felt that this would provide a real ‘step up’ for LGBTI pupils. The requirement to appropriately address the needs of gender neutral students was seen to be increasing and this had been addressed by the proposals. It was laudable that the Scottish Government were attempting to accommodate the needs of young people who do not fit into the binary male and female roles; however, the Scottish Government was encouraged to remember that these children are vulnerable for a variety of reasons, which should be considered when making any changes. The consultation was viewed as benefiting those with protective characteristics or disabilities where current Regulations are lacking.
A number of respondents, chiefly individual or local authority respondents felt that there was no positive or negative impact on those with protected characteristics but raised a number of related issues. It was a concern for several respondents that where the Regulations were not statutory variance may occur and local authorities with more constrained budgets could end up with poorer facilities. The concern was that this is also likely to result in poor outcomes for some learners or an exacerbation of the poverty related attainment gap. It was therefore seen as important to ensure the Regulations were continually updated to ensure reasonable adjustments are made in the workplace in relation to protected characteristics under the Equalities Act (2010).
A number of areas of potential inequality were highlighted and were on the whole related to the issue of gender neutral facilities. Under the Equalities Act (2010) transgender young people are protected from discrimination and have the right to be treated as their self-identified gender. It is important that these young people be allowed to use the toilet of their choice or gender-neutral facilities to eliminate discrimination and protect their safety and wellbeing. There was seen to be a direct conflict between the protective characteristic of gender reassignment and of sex. This area requires more in-depth investigation to complete a robust impact assessment that takes this into account.
Further comments made by the minority of respondents included:
- That acoustic conditions have the potential to impact negatively on children with specific hearing or communication needs.
- That all disabled toilets should be recognisable as male, female or gender neutral for those using them.
No respondents expressed the view that the consultation was having a direct negative impact on equalities.