The value of bathroom breaks

It’s not worth asking if going to the bathroom is more important than extra credit.

Addy Vargo, Reporter

Of the everyday miseries, being denied going to the bathroom is the worst. Hope is scarce and short-lived. Its departure is as fast and stomach-dropping as any rollercoaster. With the immature “devious licks” (a social media trend telling students to steal from and vandalize school facilities) still prevalent, there’s only so much we can take. 

The Society for Women’s Health Research held a survey and found that more than a third of the responses from middle and high school nurses don’t think passing time is long enough for students to use the bathroom. 

This is true for us as well, but you don’t need me to tell you that. 

“Restricting access to the bathroom forces students into unhealthy toileting habits, such as holding in urine, which may create health problems that will follow students into adulthood and decrease their quality of life,” said Dr. Rebecca Nebel, director of scientific programs for the SWHR. 

So, if it causes lasting health problems, why is the right to go to the bathroom when necessary so controversial? No one can better judge how badly I need to take a bathroom break than me. 

“I think it’s not fair that some students need to use the restrooms more than others. And we get five minutes, that’s just not enough time to get to our next class, get to our locker and go to the bathroom,” junior Lily Pintoski said. 

Some teachers issue a limited number of passes that convert to extra credit if they remain unused at the end of the semester, but we’re not talking about learned behaviors.

Class time is important, sure, but so is students’ health. So what happens when more grade-minded students think to prioritize their GPA over their health? I’m certainly guilty. 

“I think that it works as an incentive for students to plan during their day, and figure out where’s the best time for them to take a break if they need one,” said teacher Kim Eikenberry, who uses this method. 

With that reasoning, the method should work. It uses positive reinforcement for consistency but doesn’t punish students for having to use the bathroom. Schools should not teach students in their developmental years to ignore their needs for work, especially when the same lesson can apply to much more self-destructive behaviors. 

“Because sometimes, after you use your passes, you really need to go. I don’t want anyone to have an accident or be so uncomfortable that they’re unable to focus and learn anyways,” added Eikenberry The difference between a policy and strict regulation is enforcement. 

 Going to the bathroom? Necessary. Denying a student that? Not proper. 

And all of my fellow students assigned female at birth can talk at length about how the stigma about the menstrual cycle affects policy and the time spent going to the bathroom. Institutionalized sexism just thinks of everything, doesn’t it?

“Female students are distinctly disadvantaged by restrictive bathroom policies and the lack of free and easily available menstrual products in school bathrooms,” Nebel said. 

No teacher will knowingly cause harm to students in this way. It happens regardless. The issue comes from shaming talk of menstrual needs and that the stigma affects policies and education. 

“… To use the same sanitary product for a long period of time, which can result in health issues such as yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and, in rare cases, toxic shock syndrome,” said the SWHR’s survey. 

Does that word, vaginosis, make you uncomfortable? Congratulations, you’re part of the problem! 

No one wants a rant about the audacity misogyny has for existing. You get the same message from knowing how it applies to real life and what challenges girls and women face every day because of it. 

Long story short, stop being squeamish about periods and when someone says they need to use the bathroom, let them. 

To take care of yourself is not a privilege but denying yourself harms your ability to learn. Denying yourself because someone else said it’s not as important as a class may have consequences beyond a bad day.