Prague, Czech Republic – The International School in Prague (ISP) has introduced gender-neutral toilets on its premises, Expats.cz reported this week.
Designed to cater to students who do not identify as exclusively male or female, such non-binary toilets remain a rare initiative in Prague and the Czech Republic.
Gender specific toilets, i.e. for boys and for girls, are also still available at ISP, meaning students will be free to use one or the other depending on how they perceive their gender identity and sexuality.
Gender-neutral toilets are indicated by a “half-male and half-female” figure on the door, in opposition to the traditional gendered imagery.
“Our school, with its mission and philosophy in relation to humanity, has always been open to topics that touch our students’ souls, whether in a joyful or painful way,” ISP head of school development Andrea Koudelkova told local media.
According to a 2019 report by UK-based LGBT rights advocacy group Stonewall, the acceptance and visibility of non-binary people remain scarce in the Czech Republic, especially compared to Western European nations where such issues are more openly discussed.
“Czech society has very binary understandings of gender and a heavily gendered language,” the study notes.
Compared to other CEE countries, including neighbouring Poland and Slovakia, the Czech Republic is commonly seen as more liberal and gender-inclusive when it comes to the rights of LGBT people and sexual minorities.
While the move has been welcomed by LGBT activists as a sign of greater understanding and empathy towards gender-fluid students, some have urged caution, saying the initiative could paradoxically increase their social exclusion and stigmatisation.
The debate on public unisex toilets has been raging across Europe for several years, with some campaigners noting that regardless of the divisive discussion on gender identities, non-binary toilets tend to disadvantage women – who they argue need “separate same-sex facilities for their safety, security and comfort”.
Other simulations, on the other hand, point out that gender-neutral toilets are “better for everyone”, providing a dedicated space for non-binary and trans gender people and – more prosaically – dramatically cutting the average waiting time for women in public restrooms.