Op-Ed: Using The Restroom Shouldn’t Be Up For Debate

Teachers prohibit students from using the restroom because they have notions that students misuse time spent in the restroom or that it is a privilege students need to earn. This restriction forces students to adjust to whatever regulations about restroom usage their teachers are applying to them that will negatively affect them in the long run.

Prohibiting students from doing such a basic human thing as using the restroom implies the societal view of humans under capitalism–that we are working machines, not automatically given such a basic human necessity, but having to earn it. This restriction also negatively impacts students’ health and their efficiency in class. I believe that using the restroom in schools should not be a privilege for students but a right. Students should not have to ask to do such a simple thing as using the bathroom but should always be able to go.

The human brain does not fully develop until the age of 25, so teachers affect their way of thinking in the present and the future when teaching students, especially younger ones. Teachers are not only teaching the subjects of the class but many other things that are often not thought of, like slang, ethics/moralities, and body movement. If students are taught from such an early age that using the restroom is a privilege and not something they are entitled to, I believe they are being brainwashed and exposed to a toxic environment that sponsors the notion that we do not deserve basic human decency.

Kids develop their moral compasses from an early age. Usually, they stick to them for the rest of their lives. So if they learn that basic human decency needs earning, they will believe it and internalize it, which can extend beyond restroom use to an extremely harmful level.

Being prohibited from using the restroom can also be a health hazard. Studies show that holding your urine for long periods can weaken the bladder muscles over time and lead to problems like incontinence and the inability to empty your bladder fully. While teachers may argue that their classes range from only 30 minutes to a couple of hours, the repeated behavior of withholding yourself from using the restroom is just as harmful. This behavior is also psychologically damaging. Needing to use the bathroom and not being allowed to is not only distracting from the learning process but also creates an uncomfortable environment in which students don’t like going to certain classes for this reason. This, combined with the fact that school is already complicated and tedious, makes students skip classes.

Some teachers ask students to use the restroom during their passing periods or lunch as if their students can control when they need to go. Other teachers argue that many students are not using the restroom but taking advantage of being unsupervised. While that may be the case for some students, it is not the case for all. There is no real way to know if someone is lying about needing to use the restroom. So, even if someone has a reputation for misusing their time for restroom use, there is always a possibility they need to go, making individual student reputation a poor way of determining usage.

In conclusion, being prohibited from such a basic necessity as using the restroom creates a negative environment that profoundly affects students and an entire generation to come. Using the restroom should be a basic human right, not a privilege.