Sex/Gender Equality in the Curriculum Resource

Guidance on Gender Segregation in Curriculum Delivery: 

Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) download:

EHRC Gender Segregation Guidance HE 2014 (PDF, 404 KB) 

"The purpose of this document is to provide greater clarity about the circumstances in which segregation according to gender is prohibited under equality and human rights law at events which take place at or under the auspices of universities and students’ unions, including those organised by university societies or associations.

Arrangements for gender segregation at such events must comply with the various requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (‘the Act’) and the Human Rights Act 1998 (‘the HRA’). In our view, the law is clear about what is permissible and impermissible in the great majority of instances. 

Universities also have obligations under education law (Section 43 of the Education Act (No 2) 1986) and human rights law to protect and promote freedom of speech on their premises, as far as is reasonably practicable within the law, in relation to students, employees and visiting speakers.  This duty operates with regard to university premises and to other premises which are used by students’ unions.

Segregation by gender is clearly not permitted in universities’ normal academic, teaching and research activities.  

This guidance addresses the question of whether, in order to meet the religious needs of attendees or external speakers, universities can lawfully permit any form of gender segregation at events on university premises (or those used by students’ unions or student societies) which are accessible by students and/or members of the public.

Exceptions under the Act allow for:
  • communal accommodation
  • sport sessions involving a high degree of physical contact
  • positive action measures

Exemptions permit service providers and associations to provide for:

  • welfare provision 
  • toilets, changing facilities or any service involving intimate personal health or hygiene"


Reviewed: 12 May 2015