Education

College Belatedly Learns Why Bathrooms Try To Keep Naked Men Away From Naked Women

A Toronto college is rolling back its use of gender-neutral bathrooms after two women at the school were victims of voyeurism by a man using a cell phone.

Whitney Hall, a dormitory for University College at the University of Toronto, houses about 250 students and used co-ed bathrooms exclusively until recently. “Co-ed” means both men and women in the complex would use toilet and shower stalls right beside one another.

Eventually, somebody took advantage of the situation to engage in a bit of voyeurism. Toronto Police said Monday there were two separate instances of girls seeing a cell phone reach over the shower stall dividers in an attempt to record them, according to the The Toronto Star. No one has been caught and the investigation is ongoing.

In response, the University has concluded that pushing everybody into shared bathrooms might have been a bad idea. While the Hall will continue to have some gender-neutral bathrooms for those who want them, several others are being set aside to be exclusively male or exclusively female.

Some students argue that reverting to single-sex bathrooms could somehow make voyeurism even more likely.

“It’s not very hard to be of [another] gender and sneak into the single-gender washrooms if they know it’s in the wee hours of the morning, or if they know that there’s only one person in there, who actually might happen to be in the shower,” student Tessa Mahrt-Smith told The Varsity, the school’s newspaper. “So I do feel that while [gendered washrooms] may help, there’s also the potential that [this system] could provide easier targets for the voyeur.”

Gender-neutral bathrooms are popular among many queer activists, some of whom say they reject the gender binary (identifying as neither male nor female). They’re also often used by transgendered individuals who fear being “misgendered” because they still look like their biological sex.

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