The bathroom dilemma

Students everyday use the restroom during school hours. At times it feels uncomfortable due to some factors. (Lauralai Gilbert)

Bathrooms are a right, not a privilege. However, I feel as if this statement doesn’t hold true at Bonita Vista High (BVH). The bathrooms are one of the places at school that I actively avoid: they’re dirty, unsanitary, and are vandalized often. Some bathrooms are locked, leaving only one or two bathrooms open for the entire school day. Vaping and loitering in the bathrooms is also an ongoing problem.

It would seem logical to enforce sanitary bathrooms and to ensure that they stay that way. After all, bathrooms are innately dirty. However, this does not excuse the current state that the bathrooms are in at BVH. 

One of the things I’d expect BVH bathrooms to be is clean. The California Education Code (CEC) Section 35292.5, states that “Every restroom shall at all times be maintained and cleaned regularly, fully operational and stocked at all times with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels or functional hand dryers.” Although the bathrooms do provide soap and hand dryers, the bathrooms themselves aren’t exactly clean. The stalls usually have toilet paper everywhere or urine on the seats, with the urinals having trash thrown into them. There are no mirrors in the bathroom, and overall, the bathrooms just feel unhygienic to be in. For a place that poses the most concern for health issues, it seems counterintuitive to not keep it in a hygienic state.

Even though the school does provide the bare minimum essentials that a bathroom requires, it doesn’t excuse how poorly maintained the bathrooms are. At times, bathrooms around the school are locked for no apparent reason, thus leaving me to check every available bathroom on campus, which makes me miss more class time.

There have been several occasions where I’ve had to check almost every boy’s bathroom in the 200 through the 700 buildings just to find that only one of them was open. This again, violates CEC Section 35292.5: “The school shall keep all restrooms open during school hours when pupils are not in classes, and shall keep a sufficient number of restrooms open during school hours when pupils are in classes.” Even though the CEC states that a “sufficient number” of restrooms must be open during school hours, I find that one bathroom being open in a school with thousands of students wouldn’t constitute a “sufficient number.” These bathrooms are not only closed during class hours, but also during lunch and after school.

It’s interesting to see two direct violations of the CEC that are just related to bathrooms. However, stepping aside from laws, the bathrooms also pose potentially serious social issues. There’s times where it’s uncomfortable to use the bathroom since it’s common to have several people loitering during class hours.

According to a survey conducted by Mike Kennedy, a senior editor for the American School & University Magazine, it was found that “43 percent of students fear that they will be harassed in the bathrooms at their schools.” Bathrooms are a place where students may feel most vulnerable. Going to the bathroom can become almost a gamble, especially during class hours. You may get a bathroom full of students loitering around, talking to each other and spending unnecessary amounts of time in the bathroom.

Going to the bathroom can become almost a gamble, especially during class hours

— Isaiah Nafarrete

Accompanied with loitering is vandalism or defacement of the stalls, urinals or bathrooms. Thus, making the bathrooms here at BVH feel more of an abandoned playground than a place to relieve yourself of basic bodily functions. David Creed, a staff writer for the Nantucket Current, states that items being flushed in Nantucket, Massachusetts public school bathrooms “include vape pens and cartridges, folders, various types of fruit, AirPod cases, notebook paper, balloons, clay, cat litter, plastic bags,[and] tampon applicators.”

While this list includes items that I personally haven’t encountered in the bathroom, the list does display the extent of what items are being misused intentionally in the bathroom. 

Several aspects of the BVH bathrooms need to be improved. All hygienic needs must be met in our campus bathrooms. All bathrooms need to be open for student convenience at all times throughout the school day, as well as after hours for students who partake in after school activities. Closing bathrooms to punish those who loiter around or use it to smoke or vandalize only punishes the students who actually use the bathrooms. Making the bathroom s cleaner and enforcing healthier bathroom habits at BVH is the only way students will feel comfortable using them.