This week, California high school students and their parents received a letter saying that their school limits restrooms to stop students from vaping. In other words, school administrators are so concerned about a vaping “trend” that they are restricting bathroom use. Here’s what’s happening, and why it’s a terrible idea.
At Oak Ridge High School, teachers and administrators have been noticing a trend among their teenaged students. According to the school’s principal, Aaron Palm, there is a growing number of students who have developed a habit that is both reminiscent of the past and vaguely futuristic. The students in question have taken to vaping in the restrooms during school hours. According to Oak Ridge High’s teachers and administrators, the vape devices that the students use contain THC and nicotine.
If this were ten years ago, the letter that went home to parents would have said that students were smoking cigarettes and joints in the bathrooms. It’s worth noting at this point that even though this school is in California, where there is a well-established medical marijuana program and where there will soon be legal recreational cannabis, it’s unlikely that enough students are consuming weed in school to warrant any sort of drastic action. Yet, here we are.
Since students may not bring or use certain substances on school grounds, the school’s authorities have taken a stance. To combat this trend, the school limits restrooms to stop students from vaping.
In a letter explaining this move, Principal Palm also advised parents to discuss the dangers of vaping with their children, as well as remind them that the school prohibits cannabis and tobacco-related products and paraphernalia on campus.
The limitation of restroom usage works like this. During class time, all lavatories will be closed except for the ones around the cafeteria. During lunch and break periods, all restrooms will be open. According to one student interviewed by a local news station, only two students are allowed in the bathrooms at a time. And they must sign in and out. The presence of monitors outside the restrooms enforce these measures.
Oak Ridge High’s administrators and teachers might think that this is the best tactic to quell on-campus vaping. But they are severely misguided. Limiting students’ access to bathrooms is collective punishment, pure and simple. As most people would agree, collective punishment is never a good move.
And monitoring which students go in and out of the bathroom and when? It’s hard to imagine parents getting on board with what is clearly a creepy violation of privacy.
We also can’t forget about the students who may have illnesses or disabilities that require them to have easy access to a restroom. Is the school making accommodations for them? What about female students who get their period unexpectedly? And are the bathroom monitors prepared to be empathetic and sensitive to any transgender students? It’s a slippery slope from monitoring when students use the lavatory and monitoring which students use it.
The principal noted that he will lift the restrictions when students stop vaping in the lavatories. But isn’t easy access to a restroom a basic right that high school students can expect?
In addition to being completely draconian and ridiculous, restricted bathroom access could actually lead to health problems. Frequently holding in urine has been associated with a host of issues, including urinary tract infections, kidney stones, cystitis and more. Restricted bowel movements also have adverse health effects. Like constipation that could turn chronic, and lead to severe health issues like an impacted bowel. Furthermore, gastroenterologist and co-author of “What’s Your Poo Telling You?”, Dr. Anish Sheth, says, “holding it in chronically can lead to pelvic floor dyssynergia.”
That’s when your external sphincter stops functioning normally.
It’s also not too much of a stretch to think that there are students who are, in turn, restricting their intake of water so that they will not have to urinate as often, in an attempt to avoid the bathroom restrictions. While this might seem semi-logical, dehydration also leads to health problems, like muscle cramps, constipation and headaches.
Final Hit: California School Limits Restrooms To Stop Students From Vaping
We can’t help but shake our heads at the irony of this whole situation. A school limits restrooms to stop students from vaping “for their health”, and then inadvertently sets students up for a plethora of health problems. The decision is absolutely absurd on the part of the school’s administration. It’s understandable that they want students to be in class rather than vaping in the bathroom. But this kind of response was seriously ill-conceived.
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