Published Nov. 9, 2022
BY GRAYDEN MILLER
Using the restroom is a human right, not a privilege, and high schools should be no exception.
Bathroom rights might be something one just assumes, but according to California law, there are no guidelines that decide whether teachers must allow bathroom usage, and CHS has a lack of a general policy on whether a student can leave the classroom to use the restroom. For decades, teachers here have created bathroom policies based on their personal systems instead of regulated national or state-wide rules.
To complicate the process of going to the bathroom so that fewer students leave class, teachers employ tactics to limit wasted time. For example, requiring physical, reused bathroom passes, asking students to sign out on whiteboards or a piece of paper, and implementing phone holders to store phones–preventing students from bringing phones to the bathroom during class–all shorten bathroom trips.
Despite students’ constant search for bathroom freedom and occasionally ignored use of passes or sign-out sheets, the rights to CHS students’ bathroom use during class have shrunk quite significantly.
Issues with bathroom use aren’t just the case in Carmel. According to Fox 11, students in San Bernardino have recently been only allowed to use the bathroom once a month or five times a semester, the exception being in emergency situations. Although extreme, San Bernardino’s case is one among a plethora of bathroom-pass issues.
Some teachers at CHS rely on a trust-based relationship with their students when they leave class. If students violate the rules, teachers have to resort to more severe restrictions for certain students. For example, a student with a better track record who leaves the classroom less frequently for a reasonable amount of time would be trusted more than a student who leaves often for a longer period of time.
On the other side of the problem, disallowing a student from using the restroom and not knowing students’ personal needs can create an uncomfortable, unestablished line for the authority between teacher and student. Instances like needing to use the bathroom while menstruating can make a student uncomfortable to ask to use the bathroom, and each classroom having its own set of rules forces students to resort to periodically using the restroom in certain classes and avoiding it entirely in others for fear of consequences.
In an attempt to lessen the disturbance and uncomfortable nature of raising one’s hand, asking for permission, physical bathroom passes can seem like the better option. But frankly, reusing physical bathroom passes is highly unsanitary and extremely impractical. Simply ditching the reused bathroom passes would prove to be a step in the right direction to achieve bathroom liberation.
There will always be a kid who bends the rules and disrespects authority. If someone abuses the power to leave class to use the bathroom, evidence of poor decisions will come to fruition. If granted free time, some students will make the decision to abuse their freedom. If they are made aware of their poor actions through authoritative intervention, a lesson in time management can be learned. Part of maturity is realizing when the appropriate time is.
The question is simple: Should the rights of students’ bodily functions still be confined within the classroom?
The right of the student to go to the bathroom during class should not be infringed upon unless there is a compelling reason to do so.