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September 28, 2007

Security theater: Menstruation edition

Female students at Tri-Valley Central School are fed up with the prying security guard who quizzes them about their periods in the name of security.

Grahamsville — Several television news crews from New York City are camped outside the Tri-Valley Central School following the story in today's Times Herald-Record about what question a school security guard asked a 14-year-old female student.

The girl was called out of class by a security guard during a school sweep last week to make sure no kids had backpacks or other banned bags.

Samantha Martin had a small purse with her that day.

That's why the security guard, ex-Monticello cop Mike Bunce, asked her The Question.

She says he told her she couldn't have a purse unless she had her period. Then he asked, "Do you have your period?" []

This isn't just the alleged officious perversion of a lone ex-cop. These interrogations are part of an even larger and stupider policy.

You see, Tri-Valley doesn't allow students to carry bags!   

The school banned backpacks in the halls this year for two reasons, George said: Student health, because heavy bags could hurt the kids' backs or people could trip on them; and for security concerns, felt nationwide, about concealed weapons.

Jenny Watson, 17, a senior, said kids have been confused since school started about the bag rules. Last week, a rumor started that girls could only carry purses if they had their periods. And then, on Sept. 19, school staff did the bag sweep. []

The ban goes beyond the hallways. Kids allegedly being escorted out of class by school security for bringing purses.

Good for the young women at Tri-Valley for sticking up for themselves: Girls started gluing pads to their clothing to protest the invasion of their privacy.

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Comments

The country is officially ruled by the insane.

If anti-abortionists have their way, women will have to register every time they have their periods.

Right Dave? Right Phantom?

The egregiousness of the inquiry is aggravated, not mitigated, by the general policy. If bags are not allowed, they are not allowed. So this inquiry lacked even BS merit, unless there is a explicit exception for claims of those personal items; if that's the case, hang the principal, not the guard who read the policy. But I suspect from context there is no exception.

If the issue truly is safety of others, no exception should be made for personal items. Either students can be trusted to carry personal items safely in bags without carrying guns, or they cannot.

People ask me why I am an anti-government libertarian crank. The answer is that the country's government from the White House to the schoolyard is filled with people whose love of freedom is very loud, very self-righteous, very uninformed and very fake.

Careful with that thing! You'll poke your eye out!

YAY for kids. Let the guys glue the pads on, too.

That's invasion of everything I can think of !!

I'm just wondering how the MSM caught on to this??? (SNARK)

Yee-haw! Where do I mail the box of Always Maxi-Thins with Wings in support?

Ok, I get to be the one to call it: "The Million Pad March."

I wonder if they're also banned from wearing jackets. Jackets can also conceal guns.

Because so many girls' backs have been injured by carrying a purse.

I know some people on the Tri-Valley school board. This tampon policy is ridiculous, so I'll talk to them. Some times you have to pull a few strings. (Sorry; I couldn't resist.)

I particularly liked this:
Girls have worn tampons on their clothes in protest, and purses made out of tampon boxes. Some boys wore maxi-pads stuck to their shirts in support.

Right on, kids!

Why hasn't this sack of shit security guard been questioned by the cops? Seems a good candidate for firing too.

Ack, I'm always astounded by stories like these.

This seems to be a much broader issue than Beyerenstein is making it out to be. There are a LOT of legitimate reasons why kids carry backpacks. Most schools give you 2-3 minutes between classes, not nearly enough to go to a locker at the other end of school and then onward to your other classes. Some people want to carry personal stuff with them,

There is something seriously sick about our society. They are clearly instituting rules on children that would NEVER be accepted for adults in the hopes to normalize those infringements on rights. Just like they give you 5 hours of homework a night to make you used to being a workaholic and having nothing to show for it.

Setting this up as a gendered question is just going to cause opposition to it from males. Why wouldn't they oppose females being allowed to carry backpacks or purses when they can not carry anything? Equal rights isn't based on science, it's based on justice. Regardless as to whether women have a 'better' reason to carry bags or not, if some may have them all must have them.

I love that if the issue only affected the girls (half of the student population, for those who forget), it wouldn't be considered significantly broad, just merely a "gendered" issue, as if gender issues are a minority concern on par with the concerns of coin collectors or people who obsess over vintage arcade games.

Sounds like a HIPAA violation to me.

I'm amazed at how much homework kids have to do these days. It turns them off to learning, but teaches them to be drones...no more PysEd, no more music and arts, no less.

>There is something seriously sick about our society.

Sure is, including the frantic impulse to make the perfect the enemy of the good. A major source of the weird stagnation of the times.

>There are a LOT of legitimate reasons why kids carry backpacks. Most schools give you 2-3 minutes between classes, not nearly enough to go to a locker at the other end of school and then onward to your other classes.

You know, hard to say why, but just somehow I suspect the second sentence does not back up the first.

>Just like they give you 5 hours of homework a night to make you used to being a workaholic and having nothing to show for it.

Speak for yourself. Oh, that's right, you are.

>Setting this up as a gendered question is just going to cause opposition to it from males.

Damn, another person with a handwritten note from God proclaiming what is inevitable and unavoidable.

>Why wouldn't they oppose females being allowed to carry backpacks or purses when they can not carry anything?

Damn, another sentence made of English words but not meaning.

>Equal rights isn't based on science, it's based on justice.

Well, it isn't based on raw self-interest, either.

Soullite, I'm not construing this as a purely gendered incident:

This isn't just the alleged officious perversion of a lone ex-cop. These interrogations are part of an even larger and stupider policy.

You see, Tri-Valley doesn't allow students to carry bags!

No bags at all, for anyone. That's across-the-board crazy. Every single student is being unfairly inconvenienced and patronized by the bag ban.

The menstrual harassment is a symptom of the bag ban. This is a typical officious pattern: 1) Write a sweepingly stupid rule that needs a huge number of exceptions to be sustainable at all. 2) Use the rule and the exceptions to hassle people.

Mister Nice Guy - VERY good call!!

I know that girls these days aren't as embarrassed by the curse as we were, but it still is a pain in the ass physical situation that we have to put up with and it isn't anyone's business. You know how people still think women are so delicate during their time? So maybe they can't handle a certain job? That's where all this leads. It's great that both boys and girls are protesting with pads! And may I add that no one safe from a criminal if they are sufficienty motivated and clever. All the money spent on security could be spent on actual education and yield a citizenry who could think through all the fear-mongering at every level.

Actually, this reminds me of a similar protest 20 years ago in austin (of all places). That guys (yes jocks) would decide to sport feminine pads as badges of rebellion and empowerment, seems strange and yet it happens again.

You see, the new baptist (and that seems strangely relevant) principal decided that tampons etc were medical instruments, and since there was a zero tolerance rule against drugs (which are baaaad), they also had to be distributed by the school nurse. This led to lines, embarrassment, smuggling, searches, and finally decorated revolution.

I have to say that emblazoning said products with red lipstick made even me squirm... but then I'm a guy.

I also have to say that, if some crackdown had been only on the guys, I doubt that there would have been solidarity, and any rebellion would have been dealt with far more harshly.

In order to avoid abortion when it's illegal, women will have to prove that they are menstruating.

I remember an old Bevery Hillbillies episode in which Ellie May went to school. She carried her stuff in an old bucket.

At first all the snotty rich girls made fun of her with her cut-off jeans, rope-belt, and bucket of books. Then when they found out she was richer than they were, they started to carry their stuff around in buckets too.

Effin' hilarious and spot-on.

Let's not forget, too, that shit like this doesn't actually increase anyones security.

Maybe they could post a security guard at the door of the bathroom, and then the girls could hand him their old tampon after they change it. Then, the guard could give it a sniff to make sure there is actual blood on it...

Lindsay: I'm not construing this as a purely gendered incident …

Actually, I would. Let me explain.

During the 1980s, I worked in London as a journalist and wrote a story on employment interview practices in the UK versus US. I learned, for instance, that it was common in the UK for a female job applicant to be subjected to such questions as:

Do you have PMS?
Does your period cause you to take off time from work?

In the UK, it was perfectly legal for a male interviewer to ask these questions of a female applicant, and I was quite shocked to learn how far behind were the Brits compared to the Americans in terms of gender equality.

In an American employment setting, these types of interview questions would be considered demeaning and discriminatory according to labor practices in most states.

A school bag, one might argue, is not a job interview; and a schoolgirl is not a grown woman. There is where I disagree. Why should a young woman receive less consideration under law than her adult counterpart? Why should a young woman be subject to questions of a highly personal and private nature, most especially, by a male interrogator? And what social message does this give a young woman as she prepares for adulthood?

Most of all, I am pleased the young women, and even some young men, protested with demonstrations of “Tampon Power” pinned to their clothing. The adult authoritarians should be ashamed of themselves. May I suggest this title from Leo Tolstoy: Little Girls Wiser Than Men.

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