On two separate occasions, the teachers prohibited her to use the toilet. Both the times she was in the middle of her periods and was forced to bleed through her clothes.
A school in Bristol, the UK, fell off grace when an 11-year-old girl on her periods was refused to use the restroom, forcing her to bleed through her clothes. This didn’t happen once, but twice. Two teachers refused to permit her to get out of the classroom so she could attend to her personal care. This was despite the girl’s mom having called up the school and complained about the unacceptable incident after the first episode.
According to Bristol Live, the young student at Cotham School requested multiple times to leave the classroom and go to the toilet but was denied permission. Her mother revealed that having denied access to the toilet, which forced her to bleed through her clothes at school has left her daughter “humiliated” and “traumatized.”
The mom had to call the school multiple times before the necessary actions were taken. However, she is not OK with how the school dealt with the issue and is bothered that this might risk the safety and well-being of girls across the UK.
“They should not be making young girls feel guilty because she needs to go to the bathroom and sort out her basic care. Now, she’s scared to go to school in case they won’t let her out of the classroom, that’s not what we should be teaching girls,” said the mum, who has not been named to protect her child’s identity.
“We should be allowing them to go as part of giving them the tools to achieve their goals whether they are on or off their period,” she said. “It shouldn’t have gotten as far as her having to bleed through her clothes not once but twice in the space of a few short months. Schools should be finding ways to help kids not traumatize them,” she stated.
The first incident occurred in September when she was on her periods and wanted to leave the classroom for the toilet to tend to herself. She was denied permission by the teacher in the class, for no good reason, which led her to not just bleed through her clothes but also forced her to go through the entire day in soiled clothes.
It was a non-uniform day at school, and she was wearing light blue jeans on which the stain would have been prominently visible. She tried and hid her embarrassment with a long jumper she had on.
When she returned home, her mother was horrified and extremely upset. “I couldn’t believe it. I rang the school and complained and they just said it would be okay and wouldn’t happen again. They seemed sorry it had happened but didn’t tell me how they would make sure it didn’t happen again,” said the mum.
“Then, in October she came on again and she was petrified of going to school. I rang to say I was keeping her off and the attendance lady said I couldn’t keep her off school for that reason,” she recounted. “I understood that, but she was so worried in case it happened again. I was assured the teachers would be told and that if there were any problems to get back in touch with her.”
The school failed yet again to live up to its responsibilities of making the students feel safe and comfortable. Looks like no one relayed the news from the upset mother to the teachers. Either that or the teachers didn’t care how scarring such events could be. This time a male teacher refused to let her go to the bathroom and also threatened her that if she asked again, she would receive another strike against her name on the board and would be sent to the SL learning classroom.
“She asked multiple times but he wouldn’t let her out and so she just had to sit there and bleed through her clothing—again. It was very traumatizing for her,” she said.
A spokesperson of Cotham School said: “The school does have a policy not to allow students out of lessons for the toilet as part of our Safeguarding procedures. Students should not be out of lessons unsupervised.” But this made no sense to be taken as an absolute rule without respect for students’ personal needs and self-care.
“However, as staff, we are all keenly aware that we have young girls in our care and that, on occasion, they will need to use the toilet outside of the usual break times,” they admit. “It is regrettable that this has happened and that this young girl has felt humiliated and also that this article may portray the school in a negative way when we are trying to do good work in this area.”
The mum highlights an important responsibility of all schools, “Their primary concern should be the welfare of girls who have the right to basic care and not focused solely on whether children will abuse some sort of pass system.” And the mom is right. Schools need a more holistic approach where rules don’t bypass common sense!