Can Teachers Keep Students From Going To The Bathroom
Is it right for a teacher to deny students from going to the bathroom? We’ve all been students and may have seen or experienced this first hand. You urgently need to use the bathroom while the teacher is in class, you ask permission from them only to be denied.
It’s difficult to understand why any teacher would do this but teachers have their reasons for denying students bathroom privileges in school. That said, are these reasons enough to keep students from using the bathroom; to deny a basic human need?
Adults in the workplace are allowed to use the bathroom whenever they need to. Labor law empowers employees to use the bathroom whenever necessary. And because restroom access frequency varies from person to person, no federal standards exist for the permitted number of restroom breaks or schedule exists.
So how is it that adults in the workplace can use the bathroom whenever they need to and however many times necessary but students are sometimes restricted from doing so by their teachers?
This article will identify the reasons why a teacher might deny students from going to the bathroom during class hours and whether they’re allowed to do so.
Why Teachers Deny Students Going To The Bathroom
While most students might consider a teacher denying them the opportunity to go to the bathroom as simply being mean, the reasons behind this action include:
Leaving For Reasons Other Than Bathroom Usage
Using the bathroom is a basic human need and teachers understand the consequences of denying students who want to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, some students simply ask to go to the bathroom for other reasons besides actually using the bathroom.
They may take the opportunity to go and play or even run away from school in some cases. Teachers are responsible for students in their classes and are held accountable for any form of negligence.
And since they’d be unable to keep an eye on every student who leaves the class, they could be held responsible for avoidable accidents. Just as teachers could be held accountable for accidents when they leave their students alone in the classroom, they could still be held responsible for any student injury on their watch.
Students Will Misbehave In The Bathroom
From bullying to other forms of misbehavior, students tend to misbehave in the bathroom especially when they know classes are in session. Teachers would be unable to catch these students and any misbehavior in the bathroom and most students would be in the classroom during classes.
This gives them the perfect chance to do what they want in the bathroom. Some students even take this opportunity to play games on their computers in the bathroom.
Disrupt Ongoing Classes
Imagine preparing a lesson for your students and finally coming to class to present it to your students. You’re in the middle of teaching students who are asking questions and you’re happily explaining. With limited time for a lesson, each lesson is carefully planned to fit into the 50 or so minutes allotted.
Teachers have limited time to complete a syllabus before students can be appropriately tested. Sometimes, the teacher remembered some key bit of information they didn’t plan and wanted to share with the students. Any interruptions would most likely derail them.
Sometimes the teacher needs to explain a difficult concept for the first time to the students. It is a bit difficult and requires a certain amount of focus on the part of the learner, interruptions can make it more difficult or impossible for others to follow the train of thought.
Adequate Bathroom Time During Class Breaks
Class breaks provide students some time to use the bathroom if needed. Most educational institutions strategically provide a few minutes between classes. Teachers expect students to leverage this time to visit the bathroom if needed to avoid any interruptions during their classes.
That said, some students and teachers have complained that the break period between classes isn’t long enough for students to use the bathroom.
Some schools seek to minimize the amount of time students spend in the bathroom during class as prolonged absence during ongoing classes could result in the student missing parts of the lesson.
They institute regulations restricting student access to the bathroom during ongoing classes. Some even go the distance by locking bathrooms at specific times when students are either expected to be in class or away from the school.
Although this reasoning may be understandable up to some extent, it becomes inconvenient when students genuinely need to use the bathroom. After all, research has shown that holding in urine can weaken bladder muscles, causing leakage and increased susceptibility to infections.
In some cases, the bathroom may be temporarily closed as necessary for the safety of their students or to repair the facility. In such cases, an alternative bathroom would be provided by the school should the repairs be expected to take longer.
Can Teachers Keep Students From Going To The Bathroom
Now that we have a better understanding of why teachers may keep students from going to the bathroom, let’s try and answer the question of whether they’re allowed to do this.
Yes. Unless students have a known medical condition that results in frequent breaks, teachers can keep students from going to the bathroom. That said, denying students their basic human needs could lead to physical and emotional trauma which may be considered abuse in some cases.
Bathroom restrictions can sometimes place female students at a disadvantage. As such, teachers in schools with these restrictions are more likely to allow female students to go to the bathroom during class than male students.
What Students Denied Bathroom Usage Can Do
Now that we know that teachers can keep students from going to the bathroom, what can students do about it?
Talk To You Teacher
Teachers are humans with basic human needs as well, you can calmly ask to talk to your teacher in private. Explain to them that you’re serious and that you’re unable to concentrate as a result of your physical needs.
Inform them you’d be back in a few minutes and they can deny you next time if you do not come back within a short period of time. Most teachers would definitely let you go as they know the pain.
Talk To Your Parents
If your teacher still denies you access to the bathroom, you can bring the issue up with your parents. Although it can be embarrassing, you should still talk to your parents about this issue so they can bring it up with the school.
Keep in mind that schools do their best to avoid escalating issues especially when parents become involved. Other parents could hear it and the issue could escalate. It’s easier for them to solve the issue calmly, especially in cases where such denial could impact the student’s emotional health leading to some form of liability for the school.
Speak To Your School Principal
In the case of an emergency where you’re unable to hold it after the teacher’s denial, it’s advisable to leave the class for the bathroom without the teacher’s consent. Visit the principal’s office when class is over and explain the issue to them.
Note From Physician
If your school’s strict bathroom policy still remains an inconvenience, it’s advisable to acquire a note from your doctor stating that you’re allowed to use the bathroom whenever necessary. Although this may seem extreme, it’s a last resort that can be considered in the event that the above options are unsuccessful.
I did all of the above with my child (who has a known medical necessity for restroom breaks due to ureter reflux and chronic UTIs and has both a pediatrician and urologist note on file), spoke with the principal, advised my child to leave class without permission, and yet-the teacher still refused to let her go. And in fact-made her stand up in class after two hours and told her she could finally go-but not before she humiliated her in front of her peers by saying she needed to go between classes, and made it sound like my child needed to wear a scarlet letter…
I’m very sorry to hear that. That’s an extremely inappropriate behavior for a teacher. I hope you’ve reported the incident to the principal to discourage the teacher from repeating their actions.