PUPILS at Galashiels Academy will have a major say on whether toilets at the town’s new high school are gender-neutral, a meeting has heard.

But councillor Harry Scott said the thought of young girls being forced to share unisex facilities with boys three or four years older than them was ‘horrifying’.

There has been much debate on the pros and cons of gender-neutral loos.

Those in favour of the toilets say that they can help reduce bullying, as well as being more inclusive to the trans community.

However, those against the loos say that they threaten the safety of women.

At a special meeting of Galashiels Community Council last week, plans for the “modern community campus” were scrutinised.

And the issue of gender-neutral facilities was raised with Scottish Borders Council’s (SBC) Steven Renwick, the project manager for the development. Mr Renwick told the meeting that the matter was an “opportunity for young learners” to have the final say, like they did at the new Jedburgh Grammar Campus.

“Our approach is to leave the management and designation of the toilets largely up to each individual school,” he said. “Should the pupils and the community feel that they would rather designate those as boys’ and girls’ toilets, we would like to leave that as a local decision.”

In November, independent Galashiels councillor Harry Scott raised a motion at a full council meeting demanding that pupils and teachers be consulted on any plans to install gender-neutral toilets at the new school.

At the gathering last year, he said there had been reports of pupils “waving sanitary products about like flags” in Jedburgh, while he had heard stories of girls at Kelso High School going a whole school day without using the toilet to avoid the unisex loos.

An SBC spokesperson at the time said both schools had “no knowledge of these incidents taking place”.

At last week's meeting, Mr Scott said: “Young girls of 12 or 13 years of age going through certain physical changes in their life having to share toilet facilities with boys that are maybe three or four years older actually horrifies me. I think it’s disgraceful.

“I think it’s all done through misguided political correctness and it needs some common sense added to it.”

He added: “Women are equal to men but they are different and they’re entitled to safe spaces, especially when it comes to toilet facilities.”

He also called for the council to hold a consultation on the facilities before the final build of the campus has been decided.

Mr Renwick told the meeting that the council is currently planning to replicate the unisex toilets seen at Jedburgh’s high school, with enclosed cubicles and communal washing basins.

Speaking from the public benches, John Gray said: “I’ve yet to meet any young person and certainly us older persons that has any positive reaction to unisex toilets.

“To ask the opinion of the pupils, you may well get the answer we all hope for but I don’t think it should be left to that.

“It’s a concern for parents, it’s a concern for kids and the council has to accept that it is a concern.”