An 11-year-old girl was not given permission to use the toilet two times during her periods. The helpless girl bled through her clothes and refused to go to school during periods.
It is important for every institution to "walk the talk." A school that tried to reduce period poverty did not allow one of their own students to use the bathroom when she was on her periods. The school's hypocritic actions infuriated the mother of the young girl.
According to Bristol Live, an 11-year-old girl from Cotham School in Bristol was denied access to the bathroom on two occasions while she was on her periods. The helpless young girl bled through her clothes and went home in her stained dress. The mother who was horrified by the school's actions told the news outlet that her daughter is now uncomfortable going to school during her periods. However, the girl was finally given a toilet pass after numerous complaints given by the mother.
"When you’re only 11-years-old and shy anyway, requesting to go to the toilet several times is unpleasant enough but, all she wanted to do was take care of her basic care. They kept saying it was their policy but I really think they should change their policy if that's the case, they need to do better. I mean my daughter is one among thousands of girls in any number of schools in Bristol and up and down the country so, this can’t just be happening to her and it’s not acceptable. 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," said the mother to Bristol Live.
She added that the school's actions made the young girl feel guilty about her need to use the toilet. "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 mother.
She also added that it is important for us to protect girls and help them achieve their goals regardless of whether they are bleeding or not. She said that the school should have not let this incident occur twice and should have dealt with it in a better way. "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. 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 said.
The young girl had joined the school recently. The first incident occurred in September 2018 during an ongoing lesson. The girl who knew that her period had begun asked her teacher if she could use the bathroom. However, she was denied. The girl stained her clothes went home to tell her mom what had happened. "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.
Though the school had apologized, the same incident occurred in October. The young girl who did not want the same experience to repeat told her mother she wanted to stay home, however, the mother was informed that she could not keep the girl off school. ".. I was assured the teachers would be told and that if there any problems to get back in touch with her," told the mother.
However, there was no change. The young girl was put in a similar situation once again. This time, it was a male teacher who didn't let her out of class to go to the bathroom. He even said 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," said the mother.
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. It is regrettable that this has happened and that this young girl has felt humiliated..."
Addressing the issue, the spokesperson added, "With regard to this particular incident we have been in full communication on several occasions with the mother and the young girl and have issued a toilet pass, as per our school policy, so that this will not happen again. The toilet pass can be shown discretely to the teacher so that there is no explanation required. Many young girls and boys who have need of the toilet outside of lessons have these passes at Cotham School."
"We aim to support all our girls during their period," said a spokesperson to Bristol Live. However, the mother claims her daughter has not received an apology from the school despite being made to feel like it was her fault.