An MP is calling for an end to bans on schoolchildren using the toilet during their lessons to help girls on their periods.
Layla Moran says that girls on their period are missing out on vital parts of their education because they may struggle to concentrate while worrying about the need to change a pad or tampon.
In some cases pupils may opt to miss school rather than face the humiliation of leaking or have faced disciplinary action for insisting on using the toilet during lesson time.
The Lib Dem MP is bringing a Private Member’s Bill to help change the situation following a number of reports of teenagers struggling to manage their periods without access to the toilet when they need.
Maisie-Rae Adams, 14, said she was forced to storm out of the classroom after her teacher told her to “control her period“ after being refused to go to the toilet.
The student told the i newspaper she had already been given three detentions for asking to go to the toilet while on her period at Rednock School in Dursley in Gloucester.
The school’s headteacher, David Alexander, said the school provides free tampons and sanitary towels for those who need them and that they have a “time out” cards for girls for that purpose specifically.
Another case in Bristol left an 11-year-old feeling “humiliated” after bleeding through her clothes twice because teachers would not allow her to leave the classroom to use the toilet while she was on her period.
After a number of grievances made by the mother to the secondary school on her daughter’s behalf, the Bristol Post reported that the 11-year-old has now been given a toilet pass.
Research found 49% of girls had missed a day of school due to periods and one in 10 women aged 14 to 21 is not able to afford period products.
The former teacher is worried that girls and young women are missing their lessons whilst on their periods, whilst children with medical conditions are also facing barriers.
Ms Moran, who is the Lib Dems Shadow Education Spokesperson, is calling for the guidance for schools to change as part of a private members bill.
She told the Mirror: “Every child should be supported by the government in getting their education, and girls and young women on their periods are no exception. We need to address the outdated way of thinking when it comes to children’s access to toilets.”
She believes it will allow teachers to use their common sense allowing sensitivity to a child’s particular circumstances.
Ms Moran, who has campaigned to end period poverty, said: “By forcing the Secretary of State to publish guidance to schools on this issue, teachers will be able to use their common sense in allowing children to access the toilet when needed, whilst ending those minority of schools enforcing problematic bans.”
Polling company YouGov found almost half of British girls have witnessed their peers being bullied and shamed about their period. The study found nearly half of girls in Britain said boys tease or joke about periods.