GENDER-NEUTRAL toilets could be implemented in county council buildings such as libraries, following unanimous support from councillors.

Oxfordshire County Council will consult local people to help guide future policies, after the cabinet responded to a transgender motion.

In December, a motion was put forward to the local authority by county councillor Sally Povolotsky.

The motion requested action to support transgender and non-binary people in Oxfordshire, and was agreed at council in April.

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“Transgender and non-binary people face significant disadvantage in society, vulnerable to violence, isolation, homelessness, and lack of access to suitable healthcare provision,” the motion read.

It called for work to provide at least one gender-inclusive bathroom (accessible) where possible in every public building owned or operated by the council.

The cabinet agreed an approach to providing gender-inclusive toilets through the council’s Property Strategy.

The council’s leader, Liz Leffman, said: “As the original motion to our council meeting in April said, transgender and non-binary people deserve respect and autonomy. 

“It’s therefore our duty as community leaders who seek to create an open and tolerant society to speak out against transphobia and discrimination in all its forms and to take active steps to tackle inequality and disadvantage.

“We want to carry out in-depth engagement so that we fully understand the thoughts and experiences of transgender and non-binary people in our communities.

“Once that information is gathered, we can then begin to implement changes to council policies in line with what the April motion asked for.

“This is not going to be an overnight change, but is going to take the form of considered policy development informed by insight from our communities.

“As responsible custodians of council budgets, future change will be funded within existing budgets and with respect to the many other demands that are placed on our budget.”

Oxford Mail: Oxfordshire County Council leader Liz Leffman. Picture: Ed NixOxfordshire County Council leader Liz Leffman. Picture: Ed Nix

An approach to providing consistent and inclusive language, and the development of an LGBTIQA+ guidance document, was also agreed upon.

With regard to providing gender-inclusive toilets, the council is set to complete a review of the bathroom facilities available in its buildings as part of the local authority’s Property Strategy, which is currently in development.

For new documents and policies published by the council, the local authority is proposing introducing guidance that requests use of non-binary language including ‘they’ and ‘them’ except in cases where ‘she/her’ and ‘he/him’ are necessary.

The council plans to commission research led by Healthwatch Oxfordshire in order to understand the experiences of transgender and non-binary people in the county.

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

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