EXCLUSIVE: Traumatised 13-year-old girl ‘attacked’ by boy in a gender-neutral school toilet says she dreads returning to lessons
- Girl left battered after boy tried to force his way into a cubicle to ‘humiliate’ her
A traumatised girl of 13 says she dreads returning to school after being attacked by a boy in a gender-neutral toilet.
She was left battered and bruised after he tried to force his way into a cubicle to ‘humiliate’ her.
The girl, who does not wish to be named, was struck in the head by the swinging cubicle door in the tussle.
The incident sparked outrage among MPs and campaigners who lambasted Caludon Castle School in Coventry for a ‘disgusting’ lack of safeguarding.
Speaking for the first time since her ordeal last week, the victim said girls were forced to hold toilet doors closed while using them because the locks were kicked off by unruly boys. And the teenager said she feared returning to class following two days off.
Mother Gemma Brennan, 40, says she fears for her daughter while the gender-neutral loos remain in place, accusing the school of prioritising the needs of a tiny majority over the safety of girls
‘I was embarrassed because I was with all my friends,’ she added. ‘All my mates were telling him to stop. I was holding the door closed, but a group of boys kept trying to force their way in. It’s just scary.
‘The toilets are open to everyone, the cubicles have doors, but the actual toilets don’t. I don’t have any privacy because everything is heard by everyone.’
She was taken to hospital where she had X-rays for a bruised arm and treatment for the wound to her forehead.
Her mother Gemma Brennan, 40, says she fears for her daughter while the gender-neutral loos remain in place, accusing the school of prioritising the needs of a tiny majority over the safety of girls.
‘I’m absolutely horrified,’ she added. ‘When I saw her cut, I couldn’t believe it. But I knew what it was straight away because I’ve been emailing the school about the toilet issue saying the locks are broken and that the girls can’t go to the toilet in privacy.
‘Neither can the boys. Girls and boys need separate toilets – it is infuriating. I fear for her safety every single day.
‘It will get worse and it will it will happen again. I dread the worst.’
The school said the pupil responsible has been sanctioned over the ‘distressing’ incident.
The loos in the comprehensive were refurbished in 2017 to make some ‘open plan with unisex private cubicles’.
But youngsters in Year 9 apparently have access only to unisex cubicles.
Some girls are so scared by the lack of privacy they choose to stay at home when on their period.
Campaigners have called for a crackdown on the number of same-sex school loos .
Sir John Hayes, chairman of the Common Sense Group of MPs, said: ‘We need to have spaces that are just for women and just for men – especially in schools.
‘We should drop all this modern, liberal claptrap and just recognise that there are some times when girls need privacy, and similarly so do boys.
‘The idea that a girl can’t use the lavatory safely in school is just preposterous.’
Labour MP Rosie Duffield said: ‘This is another example of a reactive and ill-thought through policy that leaves parents and children with serious concerns.
Campaigners have called for a crackdown on the number of same-sex school loos (stock image)
‘Many young people have contacted me about their loathing for unisex toilet facilities at their schools but are afraid to speak out and don’t want to be targeted.
‘Girls and women need and deserve privacy in all toilet spaces and so do boys.’
The Association of School and College Leaders has called on the Government to publish advice on the issue.
Safe Schools Alliance UK, which campaigns for safe spaces, said children were entitled to ‘the privacy, dignity and safety of single-sex facilities’.
A spokesman added: ‘The lack of safeguarding is simply disgusting, once again a public inquiry is needed into how safeguarding has been undermined in some schools.’
Caludon Castle insisted its unisex toilets were supervised at break time and fitted with locks.
It said it would ‘seek the views of our students and a parent reference group, to get to understand people’s concerns’.
Headteacher Sarah Kenrick added: ‘The safety and wellbeing of our students is the school’s number one priority, and we are extremely concerned by last week’s incident.
‘Standards of our expected respectful behaviours have been reinforced through assemblies and tutor groups.
‘There are two sets of unisex toilets in the school and the others are single sex. The unisex toilets are supervised at break and lunchtimes.’
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