A research team from Sheffield Hallam University have been awarded nearly £50,000 to discover whether the terms “Gentlemen” “Ladies” and “Men’s Toilets” are accessible.

The award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council is to fund research on the way public toilets are designed, ” in an effort to assess if they are fit for purpose for the UK’s diverse 21st Century society.”

Led by Sheffield Hallam University’s Dr Jenny Slater, the Around The Toilet project is looking at the lack of adequate or accessible toilet provision for disabled and transgender people, amid fears that definitions such as “Gentlemen” “Ladies” and “Men’s Toilets” are out-dated and discriminatory.

Dr Slater, from Sheffield Hallam University’s new Sheffield Institute of Education, will lead a project team including the University of Leeds, University of Sheffield, Action for Transgender Health, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) and Queer Of The Unknown Arts Collective on the nine-month project.

She said,

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“Toilets may seem a frivolous subject but they are at the heart of important discussions about how we understand our own identities. The starting point for us is to explore how disabled people and those identifying as trans, gender-queer or non-binary are treated in modern society.

“As well as issues around toilet closures we have much anecdotal evidence that suggests there is a lack of suitable facilities for our diverse population.

“This project will also consider issues of race, ethnicity, age, religion, faith and homelessness through reflective storytelling, creative arts and performance.”

Along with the announcement of their research, Dr Slater has also encouraged members of the public to post their experiences of toilets in Sheffield and beyond.

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