"The message being put across is 'you need to go to work when you're not feeling well, you have to deliver, suck it up."
A father from Cornwall, UK, is on a mission to normalize period pain and to get educational institutions to accept it as a legitimate reason for missing school. In a petition to the Department for Education, Marcus Alleyne — who is the father of three girls — wrote: "I am the proud father of incredibly courageous, fierce and strong daughters, the eldest of which attends Secondary School. It not only saddens me that I am urged to write to you, but it also raises significant concerns surrounding the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of not only my daughters but all people who have periods across the country."
#periodpain needs to a legitimate and recognised reason for time off! More than 30,000 signatures across 30 different countries. Thank you for signing the petition https://t.co/zT7IijcaeV #periodpain #DAISEE #Equity pic.twitter.com/bpTbd6f41K— Marcus Alleyne (@marcus_alleyne) October 3, 2021
"I'm sure anyone who has had a period would agree, that at some stage, they have suffered significantly from Dysmenorrhoea, yes there is actually a medical term for 'period pains.' The reason for this terminology is due to its being a globally recognized medical condition, with a variety of treatment approaches, from over the counter pain relief and a hot water bottle to surgical interventions," continued Alleyne, who is a former Royal Navy medic and vice-chair of Black Voices Cornwall, reports ITV. "By not allowing absences due to Dysmenorrhoea, which you are doing by considering them unauthorized, shows very clear disparities, and registering absences as unauthorized due to a medical condition only affecting women and people who menstruate is a clear demonstration."
'We didn't feel as parents it was right to send her in'— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 4, 2021
Marcus Alleyne is fighting to allow period pain to be recorded as a legitimate reason to be absent from school, after he was told his 13-year-old daughter would be marked as ‘unauthorised absence’https://t.co/7OFMVzpv73 pic.twitter.com/LMoQY6kYKA
"This leads me to the concerns I have surrounding ignorance of the condition, the impact of a CIS male-dominated field within the senior leadership teams in schools, or the sheer disregard for the physical, emotional, and academic wellbeing of our pupils," he added. "As the department responsible for education, it baffles me that the following archaic approach is not only alive and well but also continuing to influence practice in 2021 posing a direct risk to our young women, trans, non-binary pupils, and every one pupil [who] by no choice of theirs own menstruates."
Our founder Gabby Edlin on @SkyNews this morning, highlighting the embedded sexism which means that period pain is often dismissed. Sign @marcus_alleyne's petition here: https://t.co/BzSFy1pccI https://t.co/o8PnO9r4Gk— Bloody Good Period (@bloodygood__) October 4, 2021
Alleyne went on to reveal that he was inspired to start the petition after his 13-year-old daughter, Izzy, was marked as having an "unauthorized absence" for missing class due to this globally recognized condition. "If I had said she was suffering a migraine then we wouldn't be having this conversation," he said. "We need to make significant changes not only to the institutions responsible for nurturing our young women and future female leaders but also need to educate the prehistoric mindsets of the policy creators and decision-makers," the concerned father wrote in his petition.
Thank you to all of you who have signed the petition. 50000 signatures! 100s of comments and 1000s of lives experiences. We are only just scratching the surface. #DAISEE #periodpain pic.twitter.com/02iyMX05LV— Marcus Alleyne (@marcus_alleyne) October 7, 2021
The "Period Pains (dysmenorrhea) need to be a legitimate reason for absence in schools" petition has gained over 63k signatures over the past couple of weeks. "I think some people have been particularly encouraged that it's a dad standing up for young women, but I think that's only because of the way we've been fed - that it's only a 'woman's problem,' but it's not, it's a social problem," said Alleyne. "For some young women and girls, the process for understanding menstruation starts in schools - and more often than not it's given to a female teacher. But why aren't we equipping male teachers with the same advice and support, to understand this? When it comes to making policy, let's be honest - most schools' senior leadership is predominantly males."
"The previous generations had that 'children should be seen and not heard' attitude, but these are our future leaders, future doctors, lawyers, refuse workers, builders, musicians," he added. "Being a father of three daughters has helped me understand [the issue more], added to which my mum was around and I had sisters around, so I learned about the issue that way. For me, it [menstruation] was very much part of the norm long before I met my first girlfriend and got married. We have access to education in school, so why is it in 2021 that menstruation is still a stigma, why is it not being discussed. The message being put across is 'you need to go to work when you're not feeling well, you have to deliver, suck it up."