Going to the bathroom at school

Going to the restroom is a right, not a privilege.


Jenna Wilson-Levin

A set of bathrooms at San Dieguito Academy.

Many teachers face their students abusing their bathroom “privileges”, however, going to the toilet should not be a privilege; it’s a right. In workplaces, according to California law, an employer can not prevent an employee from using the restroom unreasonably. 

Some students meet friends while “going to the restroom”. They may take a walk and take their time coming back to class. Despite these issues, too much restriction on going to the bathroom is not right. There can be medical repercussions from not using the restroom frequently enough.

Some teachers have offered bathroom passes that can be turned in at the end of the quarter or semester for extra credit if not used. It is abhorrent that teachers would disincentivize students from taking care of their natural needs. 

A few teachers have a policy of “going before class”, meaning they don’t want you to go to the bathroom at all during class. Of course, it is important for students to be in class as much as possible to properly learn. However, if a student needs to take care of a need, I doubt that they will be able to pay much attention. Additionally, with the overcrowding of students, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get to class on time. The hallways are filled with traffic, preventing students from having extra time to go to the bathroom before class.

It is especially upsetting as bathroom restrictions affect some students more than others. Those with some medical conditions may need to use the restroom more often. Additionally, those with periods have more need to use the bathroom to change menstrual products. Limited toilet usage may cause discomfort. 

The idea of some students getting extra credit for not using the restroom is a form of discrimination against those who may need to use the restroom more often for medical reasons or for menstruation. 

Explaining such needs to teachers may be embarrassing. Students shouldn’t need to do so anyway. Even if some abuse their right, others should not be prevented from exercising their right because of the faults of others.

I applaud teachers who make it easy for students to use the restroom, something that should be incorporated into law. Teachers can use methods, such as logs and one-at-a-time rules, to let students go to the restroom while still monitoring their activity. While abuse of the right to go to the bathroom does take place, this shouldn’t prevent those with true intentions from taking care of a basic human need.