The Noble Network Charter Schools in Chicago apparently have “dehumanizing” policies in place that forbid menstruating teenage girls from going to the bathroom as frequently as they need to. As a result, they often end up bleeding through their pants or skirts.
This shocking information was revealed by a former teacher who spoke to NPR about her time at some of the charter schools. The report received even more authenticity after an anonymous student came forward and confirmed that they had been put through cruel “disciplinary” policies such as these. The student revealed that menstruating students often had to make trips to the bathroom to change their sanitary pads or tampons.
Wow: At a network of Chicago charter schools, bathroom breaks are so infrequent that girls regularly bleed through their pants when they have their periods. The administration’s solution: Give special permission to tie a sweatshirt around their waists. https://t.co/fJ67IIF8o2 pic.twitter.com/3jZC7DQtxj
— Jessica Roy ? (@jessica_roy) April 30, 2018
The school simply didn’t allow them to perform this basic bodily function. The student said, “We have (bathroom) escorts, and they rarely come so we end up walking out (of class) and that gets us in trouble. But who wants to walk around knowing there’s blood on them? It can still stain the seats. They just need to be more understanding.”
Twitter went wild and numerous people expressed their outrage at the report’s findings.
This is a despicable violation of Title IX (and likely state law). Please tell me they have an attorney (if not, I’m happy to make connections).
This cannot keep happening.
— Jessica Lee (@BusquedaJess) May 1, 2018
Exactly. I work in the non-profit sector, focus on those who work with public schools and/or are youth programs. Among some, there is def a belief that rigid discipline is the answer. I think it’s mostly to do with correcting what they think is a lax home environment…
— PJLM (@PJLM) April 30, 2018
In a totally bizarre move, the school explained their solution to this issue, ‘girls who bleed through their pants would have to walk around wearing school sweaters wrapped around their waists.’ As the school staff consider this a violation of the dress code, administration would inform them about all the students who are bleeding.
Trust me, every kid & every adult in that school knows why the girls are wearing sweaters around their waists. It may not be *meant* as a shaming technique (though I question that), but it definitely operates as one. And from my memories of jr. high, boys are brutal about periods
— Diana Joy (@DianaJoy23) May 1, 2018
Unchanged pads and tampons can lead to dangerous physical conditions such as toxic shock syndrome and other bacterial infections. Parents and other stakeholders have argued that going to the bathroom is a basic human right and shouldn’t be made into a privilege, especially if this carries physical danger to the students involved.
The former teacher who initially started making waves about this issue quoted a student who said, “One student says it best, ‘When you treat us like animals, what do you think we are gonna act like?’”
While a lot of parents were outraged about the policy, the Principle of Noble Networks of Chartered groups responded with a positive email to all staff members. In her statement she denied NPR’s claims and stated that they were ‘exaggerated or plainly false’.
She wrote, “So, while I acknowledge our imperfections, I also celebrate our willingness and flexibility to hold each other accountable and get better. And I just don’t see the Noble that I know and love reflected in this article.”
More users on Twitter shared their concerns on the matter.
Some stated how a limited bathroom break may increase in kidney issues in young children.
A pediatric urology specialist told me she’s seeing an increase in kidney issues in young children because, she believed, due to more limited bathroom breaks in schools.
— ProudTVJunkie (@ProudTVJunkie) April 30, 2018
I have interstitial cystitis. It’s not fun. Sick policies like this will definitely lead to an uptick in painful bladder/kidney issues, not to mention the stigma these students face for having various accidents in class… smh.
— IntoTheVoidScreaming ✨ (@DamselDisgusted) May 1, 2018
Another user came forward with his wife’s experience while teaching at a Charter school.
Not a joke: my wife once worked at a charter school where it was policy to refuse children bathroom breaks as a disciplinary action. Kids regularly wet themselves in class. She left after a month.
— Sean Brooks (@seanwbrooks) April 30, 2018
Still mad about this.
I just realized that aside from the trauma and negative impact on their education this causes the girls, what the school is doing is PHYSICALLY DANGEROUS. The school is putting these girls at risk of toxic shock syndrome.
— Jessica Lee (@BusquedaJess) May 1, 2018
Other people were also on the defensive bandwagon; Ashley J. Dearborn, a Chicago-based actor, said she’d worked with the Noble group and hadn’t found anything wrong with their policies. She made some strangely racist comments, trying to say that the policies were in fact good for black students, who would somehow get more done because of the stringent rules.
“…If given the right conditions, these Black and Brown kids could excel and compete with the best. They have. In order to achieve this, stringent rules and regulations were developed,” she wrote in a totally bizarre twist to this narrative. However, parents and other teachers have all gone up against the group of schools and are trying to make them rethink their policies.
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