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Policing bathroom passes puts pressure on students with periods

Hannah Kloninger-Stever, Staff Reporter

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Trevor Crowell
For menstruating students, having to strategically plan out limited pass usage can be very stressful.

Everyone with a period has had that “oh no” moment in class, realizing it’s that time of the month, and having to choose whether to sneak a pad or tampon up a sleeve or in a “discreet” pencil case, or wait it out and risk bleeding through pants.

Periods can affect many aspects of school, be it absences due to cramp pain or needing to leave class more frequently.

“I’ve been [un]able to go to school a lot of times, especially in the past year,” sophomore Sophie Cattalini said. “My period has left me in such great pain that I can’t even walk.”

Many Sequoia teachers have unfair policies that limit restroom use, which don’t account for people who are menstruating. Similarly, some teachers reward unused passes with extra credit, promoting the idea of grading students on how many times they leave class, rather than the content of their work.

“If you tell a teacher that you’re on your period they should let you go without having to take a bathroom pass,” junior Jordan Beeder said. “I didn’t know I was being graded for my bathroom habits.”

These policies are implemented for teachers to police abusing the bathroom pass. Spanish teacher Evelyn Nadeau rewards extra credit to students who don’t use their three bathroom passes each semester.

“Some students who have used up their passes and have to go write their name on the board, and however long it takes them to go they stay after class,” Nadeau said. “But if they let me know it’s an emergency, I just tell them to take the pass. It is difficult [to have a good policy,] because it is so individualized.”

Not all teachers are as strict, but Sequoia lacks a place for teachers to discuss a set of minimum and maximum requirements for these policies—without a correlation with grades.

I believe my grade should reflect the effort I put into the curriculum, not how many times I left class. It is ridiculous that students who are able to vote in the presidential election still need permission from a teacher to go to the bathroom.

“When I [have] my period, it [is] annoying because I’d either have to tough it out or sacrifice my extra credit,” Cattalini said. “[My] friends have bled through pants and been [un]able to go out of the class.”

Teachers should always allow menstruating students to use the bathroom—period. This can be an uncomfortable topic for many people, and no one should feel obligated to share personal information just to leave class. An alternative would be to go to the health office.

“I hope they know they don’t have to say it, because health is always private,” school nurse Michelle Murray said. “ They [shouldn’t] have to give the reason in front of the whole class.”

Teachers need to reassess these unfair policies. Why should students’ bathroom needs be indicative of their academic success? We need to address the stigma around periods, because this discrimination needs to stop.

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Policing bathroom passes puts pressure on students with periods