Teachers refused the girl from using the washroom, leaving her thoroughly traumatized and terrified to return to school.
In a rather shocking series of events, an 11-year-old girl studying at the Cotham School in Bristol, United Kingdom was denied access to the toilet at her middle school while on her period, forcing her to bleed through onto her clothes - on two separate occasions. Needless to say, the two independent experiences have left her sufficiently traumatized and unable to attend school without undergoing feelings of nervousness and anxiety. Her mother has taken the matter up with the appropriate authorities within the school administration, who have failed to protect the young girl from the trauma of dealing with such an incident, Bristol Live reports.
Her mother revealed in an interview with the news outlet, "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." As young girls are often taught to feel shame and embarrassment about their periods, further enabling the systematic stigmatization of menstruation, these incidents would have unfortunately left her daughter emotionally scarred for many more years to come.
She further affirmed, "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." While the first incident happened in September of the school year, the second happened only a month later in October. The mother shared following the second incident, "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. Then, in October she came on again and she was petrified of going to school. I rang to say I was keeping her off and the attendance lady said I couldn't keep her off school for that reason. I understood that, but she was so worried in case it happened again. I was assured the teachers would be told and that if there any problems to get back in touch with her."
In response to the situation, a spokesperson of Cotham School stated, "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. However, as staff, we are all keenly aware that we have young girls in our care and that, on occasion, they will need to use the toilet outside of the usual break times. It is regrettable that this has happened and that this young girl has felt humiliated and also that this article may portray the school in a negative way when we are trying to do good work in this area." The Cotham School is part of the UK's Red Box Project, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating period poverty in schools within the country. However, the Red Box Project is also largely concerned with erasing the taboo of menstruation - a principle the middle school clearly has not aligned itself with. Hopefully, this young girl can heal from the trauma she has experienced while her school establishes more fair and sensitive rules and regulations when it comes to washroom use during class hours.