A FORWARD thinking Cathedral has installed gender-neutral toilets as part of its £300,000 refurbishment, with leaders there believing they are leading the way in promoting inclusivity within the Church.

St Asaph Cathedral is thought to be one of the first places of worship in North Wales to introduce such facilities.

The ‘hotel-style’ cubicle toilets – with floor to ceiling doors – have been put in place as part of the cathedral’s revamp. The mixed-sex facilities have won support from the headteacher of a church school as well as community leaders.

Tim Redgrave, headteacher at Ysgol Esgob Morgan in St Asaph, believes issues such as gender fluidity should be highlighted in order to get children to think outside what society may label as the norm.

He believes pupils will see the new toilet, simply as “a toilet they can use when they need to use it”.

A spokesman for the The Diocese of St Asaph said of the innovation: "There was only one small toilet. It was not adequate, we needed proper and adequate facilities. For large events such as concerts, we had to use portable loos and we had massive queues.

"We have the space available and the reason we went down the gender neutral line was so we could maximise the space available and the number of cubicles.

"I guess traditionally you would perhaps say they were unisex but I think gender neutral in the right term.

"I don't think St Asaph are the first to do this, but I don't know.

"It is not about faith, it is about being more accepting and and not putting up any boundaries or barriers," the spokesperson added. "It is about being practical, very practical and being open to all. The toilets offer a lot of privacy, they are floor to ceiling.

"It also helps lesbian gay bisexual transgender (LGBT) groups as well, people who are transitioning - there is no issue at all."

The Dean of St Asaph Cathedral, the Very Rev Nigel Williams, said: “The cathedral is delighted to be leading the way in inclusive, accessible facilities for all visitors to the cathedral. We’ve already had lots of positive feedback particularly from dads who can easily accompany their young daughters to the toilets, from older couples who act as carers for each other and from the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and allies) community who’ve held events recently.”

As part of the revamp, the cathedral now boasts other new facilities including a tea-room, community meeting rooms and a new patio area to incorporate seating during warmer months.

Pupils from Ysgol Esgob Morgan visit the cathedral at least once a month and Mr Redgrave said there was a need to be more open today, to help reduce feelings of awkwardness and to educate others to avoid people feeling victimised.

He added: “My experience of working closely with the diocese is that the church welcomes, respects and celebrates the similarities and differences between us all. Children have a wonderful minds, open to seeing the differences in people and debating topics such as this gives them the opportunity to form their own opinions and discuss them sensibly without prejudice.”

Asked whether gender-neutral toilets was something Esgob Morgan would ever consider, Mr Redgrave replied: “It is not something I have ever thought about for this school, but I would give all possibilities careful consideration should I ever be in the lavish extremes of being able to afford new toilets in the school.”

Newly re-elected St Asaph City councillor Bill Cowie has already tested the new toilets.

“When I tried them out, they weren’t 100 per cent complete, but I have no issue with them at all. It is not a time to be prudish,” he said.

“I could be wrong, but it must be the only one to have the gender-neutral facility, so they are absolutely leading they way for North Wales.”

But one concerned parishioner, who asked not to be named, said: “The introduction of gender neutral toilets produces the very opposite of the ‘inclusivity’ which the scheme is no doubt designed to promote.

“I think a large proportion of worshippers of a more mature age, might actually be deterred from using the facility.”