Those of you following the latest example of systematic ineptitude in the Huntsville City Schools know that the superintendent Col. Casey Wardynski’s reaction to the beating of a 15-year-old girl in a Butler High bathroom is beginning to sound chillingly similar to the litany of domestic abusers: first, underplay the seriousness of the crime (for example, calling it horseplay. Colonel, when it is three against one, it isn’t horseplay) and next, blame the victim (for example, for being “in a bathroom 20 minutes after class begins“).
I hope I’m wrong but I can easily imagine that the next command from the Colonel will be that teachers cease and desist from granting bathroom passes or be prepared to answer to his beady-eyed wrath. Kids can go between classes or not at all will be the theme.
Colonel, there are reasons, good reasons, why a female of child-bearing age may need to go to the bathroom at an unscheduled time.
I haven’t any reason to believe this pertains to the girl in the Butler case. That doesn’t matter.
It pertains to all females who menstruate. Yes, folks, I’m going to describe to the Colonel in graphic detail why sometimes a female might need to go to the toilet 20 minutes after class begins. So if this might offend you, just click out. The Colonel needs to know what it means to bleed for 2 to 7 days every 21 to 35 days. I doubt that strategies for accommodating menstruating students was a topic discussed at Broad Academy, Rand, Harvard, or West Point.
While the average age for starting to have periods is still claimed as 12 in the US, girls who start as young as 8 are not unusual, and 10 to 11 seems to be increasingly common. I can bet you that some fourth or fifth grade teacher in the HCS is going to have to deal with a girl getting her first period right there in his or her classroom.
It happened to a girl in her class when my daughter was in fifth grade. The little girl was terrified. The male teacher got two older girls, one my daughter, who from her requests through the year to go to the nurse’s office suggested to him she knew what was happening, to take the girl to the nurse so she could call her mom and get cleaned up and calmed down. This, Colonel, is what it is like some days in the classroom.
When girls first get their periods, they are irregular, and in fact there isn’t a woman reading this who even after years of bleeding hasn’t been caught by surprise. When a girl tells the teacher she needs to go to the bathroom or to the nurse, telling her to hold it til the next break isn’t going to work if she has started to bleed. Blood flows. Menstruation isn’t like urination or defecation. There’s no way to control it.
But you object that by the time a girl is 14 or 15 or 16 she should be experienced enough to handle her “problem” without disrupting the school routine. If she has five minutes between classes on opposite sides of the building, does she really have the time she needs to wait her turn in the bathroom and then go through the hassle of changing a tampon or a pad? If she can’t do the impossible and is thus tardy to class, she has a strike against her. So maybe she thinks it is better to get to class on time and go to the bathroom once things settle down.
Or maybe she is caught off guard. Her period starts early, and it happens to be ten minutes into an hour-long class. Maybe she is wearing loose heavy dark jeans and absorbent cotton briefs and it comes on as a drip drip. But maybe it comes on as a full flow and she is wearing tight lightweight white pants. She needs to get to the bathroom and she needs to go now.
Or maybe she went to the bathroom and changed pad and/or tampon between classes but she is having a really heavy period. She passes a big black glob of blood that she knows has leaked past the tampon and has a good chance of overflowing the pad, if she is double protected, which wouldn’t necessarily be the case. I can remember a time when I went to the toilet, changed tampon and pad, went out to get the newspaper, passed a blob, and immediately returned to the bathroom. Colonel, this happens. And when it happens, a girl needs to go to the bathroom. Now.
No, it isn’t the HCS’s fault that for females of child-bearing age life is sometimes — well, regularly — a bloody mess. You can blame it on the parents, I guess, for giving life or the chance for a life, to females. Female students’ bloody messes are something that they bring with them into Wardynski’s world. Make it more difficult for them to go to the bathroom when they need to and I guarantee you you’ll see a rise in absences.
Colonel, this is life. This is what you have to deal with if you are going to involve yourself in the lives of real flesh and blood young women. You can’t stop their blood flowing. If you can’t handle the bloody messiness of real life, go back to your virtual solider games where the blood doesn’t stain and doesn’t stink.