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Charter School Bathroom Policies are So Strict That Students are Bleeding Through Their Pants

This week in rage.

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The Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago has come under fire recently for their excessively strict and dehumanizing disciplinary tactics.

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NPR reports that the charter schools feature bathroom rules so strict that many students are left bleeding through their pants because they aren’t allowed a hall pass. “We have [bathroom] escorts, and they rarely come so we end up walking out [of class] and that gets us in trouble,” an anonymous student texted to an NPR reporter. “But who wants to walk around knowing there’s blood on them? It can still stain the seats. They just need to be more understanding.”

In response, the schools have made an adjustment to their already strict dress code by allowing student who have bled into their pants to wear a sweater wrapped around their waist, and alerting teachers of the incident so they don’t mark up the student for breaking dress code. Great solve, but I have some notes: maybe allow students to use the bathroom so they can change their tampons or pads!? I don’t know, I’m not an educator or a school administrator, but I feel like bleeding through your pants is not conducive to an effective learning environment.

Many students at the charter school are unable to afford menstrual products, which is why free products should be made available to all students. Schools already provide paper towels and toilet paper, and menstrual products are integral to good health and hygiene. A few states, like New York and California, have already adopted this no-brainer policy with great success.

Why is it so hard to provide low-income students with free menstrual products? The answer is, of course, the patriarchy: men hold the majority of the political power and most have no understanding or experience around this important issue and still consider menstrual products to be “luxuries.” Case in point: there are only twelve states that don’t tax menstrual products, with California vetoing a similar bill last year. Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, said, “Our tax code needs to reflect the fact that it’s not ok to tax women for being born women.”

Did this article make you furious? Check out advocacy groups like Free the Tampons, which are working towards making menstrual products accessible for everyone.

(via NPR, image: Wikimedia Commons)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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