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School Bathroom Issues

Betty Fiedler trying to access the bathroom.

On September 27th, I grabbed a hall pass from my teacher and went to the vending machine to grab a snack with my friends, who also had permission to be out of their class. I was minding my business and trying to figure out how to type in the code and get my snack to return to class when I felt a hall monitor’s eyes on me and was asked if I was running late. 

While I understand that it’s their job to monitor the halls, countless others are constantly roaming them, sitting in the bathroom, and skipping class.  On my way back, I decided to stop by the restroom and couldn’t find a close one that was unoccupied or open for me to use. When I got back to class, I wondered if teachers were aware that when a student takes a pass, it takes them a long time because bathrooms are locked, overcrowded, or they get stopped and questioned. 

I feel that there are more significant issues to focus on in the school than a student going to the vending machine with permission during class, the largest being the bathroom problem. It takes longer to find a restroom that is unlocked or not crowded than it does for a trip to the bathroom and back. The locked bathrooms don’t even have a sign that says they are locked, so by the time you reach it and check the door, you’ve wasted more time than you would have to go to an unlocked bathroom. The amount of people who use the restroom correctly vastly outweighs the amount of people who misuse the restroom, so why should a majority of students suffer due to the actions of a few? 

There have been attempts to fix the bathroom problem, but if the precautions we have in place aren’t working, it may be time to rethink our approach. Trying to go to the bathroom during passing periods is nearly impossible, with five-minute passing times that get sucked up by people shuffling along. Previous users leave bathrooms dirty, and paper towels are haphazardly strewn across the floor and sinks. Bathroom doors are starting to be propped open with wooden stoppers. A survey of the bathrooms turned up eight bathrooms in the school locked and eight open, with at least 1/4th of them (girl’s bathrooms) unusable due to people skipping class and hanging out. Gender-neutral or single-use bathrooms are supposed to be open, but upon checking them, they were all locked or used by people. As for the available and usable bathrooms, the girls’ toilets in the gym are in disrepair. There are no locks on doors, and the water pressure from the sink is weak, making it take longer to wash your hands and get to class. If the locker room bathrooms are the closest open ones available, it will take longer to go down the stairs, use them, and return to class. Overall, there are disproportionately more staff bathrooms per capita than student bathrooms. Four bathrooms are locked out of the eight (not including single-use) we have for each gender available, which is not fair. 

Propping open the bathroom doors with door-stops doesn’t give students the privacy they are entitled to, especially since the boy’s bathrooms have urinals and only one-to-two stalls. This new practice infringes on students’ right to privacy in the restrooms.

Bathrooms have become a warzone, with staff questioning your motives and students smoking and skipping in them. Going to the bathroom becomes a harrowing task instead of a quick and easy stop. 

“I can’t go in the bathroom by myself,” says an anonymous student, “I need at least one person to come with me. It’s uncomfortable to pee when people are in there listening to me and staring when I walk in, and I feel like I’m in the wrong for using the bathroom in the way it’s intended to be used.” This sentiment is experienced by more than just this one student, with many people I know echoing the same concerns. What is the point of using bathrooms when there’s no time and the environment is hostile? 

This issue is not only affecting Sam Barlow High School. Other schools in the district also face this locked bathroom issue. “I had to walk down three floors to go to the bathroom,” says an anonymous student from Gresham High School. Hopefully, we can find a solution to this ongoing issue.

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About the Contributor
Mia Fiedler
Mia Fiedler, Editor in Chief
Hi! I’m Mia and I’m a senior here at Barlow. It’s my third year in the Banner, and my second year as an editor. I love to write, and in my free time I enjoy going thrifting and walking around Portland.

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