Young girls in Wales are afraid of using unisex toilets at school due to the possibility of "sexual harassment," and "period shaming," according to the charity Women's Voices Wales.
The group claims to have carried out a large-scale review into how school students in Wales feel about so-called gender-inclusive facilities amidst concerns that they could put the welfare of children at risk.
"What we've heard so far ranges from girls not drinking water during the day so they can avoid using the toilets, to ‘period shaming' from boys," reads a long statement put out on Facebook by the charity on February 14.
They go on to outline that: "anxiety about coping with menstruation in schools has a serious effect on female pupils, including refusing to attend school. We are particularly concerned about any sexual harassment or intimidation taking place in mixed sex toilets."
In Wales, the law requires schools with children over the age of eight to have single-sex facilities — unisex toilets can only be built in addition to, rather than replace single-sex facilities.
But Women's Voices Wales claims that some establishments are not following such requirements and are replacing single-sex toilets for unisex ones.
As a result, the group says that the "safety and dignity" of schoolgirls is not being adequately respected. A spokeswoman for the group told the Daily Express that, "No child should avoid school, or stop drinking water so they don't wee. Girls cannot 'hold periods in.'"
Some parents who responded to the charity's Facebook post expressed concern about the facilities, with some arguing that young girls are avoiding the toilet during school hours because of taunts from boys.
On the other hand, some parents seem to be fine with the unisex toilets.
In response to the uneasiness surrounding the toilets, a Welsh government spokesman issued a statement saying that it intends to review the charity's concerns to see "whether further guidance" is required. Yet, it went on to add that by its accounts, the facilities are "fit for purpose."