Student’s Feelings on the Bathroom Policy

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After not being able to use the restroom for a 55-minute class period, students rush to go. (Credit: Morandi Lawrence)

Morandi Lawrence, Staff Writer

Most people undoubtedly take their restroom facilities for granted, going to the bathroom whenever they need to in their home or office without much thought. Students, on the other hand, do not always have that privilege at school. 

When asked about how students feel about the bathroom policy, junior Lily Muth feels as if “we should be able to use the bathroom whenever we like, even if it’s ‘disrupting class.’ When a person has to go, they have to go. When in class, I have had multiple teachers tell me I could not use the restroom because I needed to stay for the lesson, but I couldn’t pay attention to the lesson because I had to use the restroom.” Another junior, Justin Moore, has also felt that “when using the restroom there are so many rules for us to follow, and I can’t see why we can’t just get up and go whenever we would like. If we miss the lesson, it’s on us.” 

To ensure that students get the most out of their education, schools try to limit the amount of time they spend in the bathroom during class, and generally restrict students’ access to prevent misbehaving in the restrooms, where they are often unsupervised. Such restrictions might be adopted by well-intentioned but overworked teachers to avoid disruptions and ensure that all their kids are counted. However, treating bathroom use as a disciplinary issue can have major health consequences, particularly when a child has to go but is unable to do so. 

A 2015 study found a connection between discipline-driven bathroom restrictions and children’s health. While 81% of the more than 4,000 elementary school teachers questioned claimed they gave their students unlimited access to water, 88 percent also said they encourage them to hold their urine, and 36% stated they have a “procedure in place to encourage students not to use the bathroom during class time.” Also noteworthy is the fact that nearly eight out of ten of the educators reported bullying, misconduct, vandalism, or other unpleasant behavior occurs in the restroom. 

Children’s restroom requirements are left in limbo on K–12 campuses across the country because schools rarely have clear regulations, and teachers lack the knowledge on how to appropriately balance discipline concerns with children’s needs. In the 2015 survey of over 4,000 instructors, for example, only one in five indicated they’d attended “professional development” on children’s bathroom restrictions. This lack of awareness, along with sometimes justified fears of misconduct and academic disruption, results in a patchwork of inconsistent regulations that teachers may make up on their own. To read more about how can this affect studentds health click here.

For Fulton County’s policy, it is not forbidden to use the restroom in class, but some teachers use that rule. It is also encouraged to use the bathroom between the five-minute class changes, but so is getting water, using the vending machine, and your locker. This hasn’t always been the rule, but most recently it became a law to not use the vending machine in school hours, so it isn’t the school’s fault, but it just makes things more difficult for students. Students are also not allowed to use the restroom the first or last five minutes of class, so this limits their time.  

When asking how students felt about these rules, junior Haniya Yarizwan, states “I don’t think we have enough time to use the restroom when we would like to, having to worry about doing all those things in five minutes stresses me out, so sometimes I just don’t go when I need to.”