Can you imagine not being able to access a toilet when you most need to?
For girls all over the UK, being refused this basic human right is a reality when they are at school and on their period.
A recent survey by Plan International UK found that 68 per cent of girls aged 14-21 had experienced a rule that they couldn’t go to the toilet in lesson time at school.
This rule exists in my school, with some teachers letting girls go and some refusing to allow it.
Not only does this have hygiene and safety risks, but it can make the situation for students very awkward and causes huge anxiety.
Girls are worried about leaking, or having to explain in front of the whole class why they need to be excused.
You might be even more shocked to learn that 16 per cent of girls have missed a day of school because they were so worried about not being able to go to the toilet in lesson time.
Surely, there is no excuse for allowing menstruation to affect a girl’s education.
It’s imperative that schools provide pupils with free access to toilets, adequate sinks and waste disposal bins.
And they must give teachers support to openly discuss periods without embarrassment or shame.
There’s more about the changes we need to see online at plan-uk.org/locked-out
I wonder, will your local schools commit to recognising the needs of those who menstruate?
Member of Plan International UK’s Youth Advisory Panel