Gender-neutral toilets at Maharaja's College in Ernakulam trigger social media debate

A recent Facebook post by writer-columnist Ram Mohan Paliyath about his experience using the gender-friendly toilet during his visit to the campus initiated the debate on social media platforms.
Gender friendly toilet at Maharajas college used for representative purpose only
Gender friendly toilet at Maharajas college used for representative purpose onlyFile photo | Akhil KS

KOCHI: Gender-friendly toilets that can be used irrespective of sex in a state-run college in Kerala have triggered a raging debate on social media platforms.

The gender-neutral toilets, which have been present for years on the campus of the well-known Government Maharaja's College here, have suddenly become a topic of debate, with some netizens expressing support for the idea and others opposed.

A recent Facebook post by writer-columnist Ram Mohan Paliyath about his experience using the gender-friendly toilet during his visit to the campus initiated the debate on social media platforms.

In the FB post, the writer, also an alumnus of the college, was all praise for the initiative and said it was the first time in the past 57 years that he was using such a facility.

A large number of persons commented below his Facebook post, both supporting and opposing the gender-friendly toilets.

It triggered a raging debate on various social media platforms later.

While the majority of people hailed the gender-friendly initiative of the college authorities as a progressive move, there was also a section of people who indulged in trolling and posting sarcastic remarks against the college and its students.

However, the students and the management of the college have rejected the criticism as an expression of a narrow mindset.

Maharaja's College sources said gender-friendly toilets have been on the campus since 2018.

At present, over 30 toilets in various study departments on the campus are gender-friendly, they said.

A student said there is nothing unusual about the gender-neutral toilets.

"Do we have separate toilets for men and women in our houses? Then what is wrong with using the same toilet by male and female students on a college campus?" he asked.

Another student, a woman, raised suspicion that the present row was a deliberate move to tarnish the college.

"These gender-friendly toilets have been here for some time. Suddenly, it has become a topic of debate," she pointed out.

College Vice-Principal Dr Suja T V said the gender-neutral toilets had been introduced years ago as part of attempts to make Maharaja's College an inclusive campus.

"Every space here should be accessible to everyone. Every individual should be treated as an individual, cutting across genders. That was the objective," she told a news channel.

She also dubbed the social media criticism of the initiative as narrow-mindedness.

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