Back on Corkran Middle School's bathrooms in...


September 26, 1997

PUT THE DOORS back on Corkran Middle School's bathrooms in Glen Burnie.

The six student restrooms may be easier to monitor and quieter without outer doors, but the benefits are not worth the debilitating message this ridiculous policy sends to students, teachers, parents and the surrounding community.

Principal Robert Janovsky, who did not originally remove the doors but continues the policy, justifies it by the results: Kids are not smoking, making loud noises or fighting in the bathrooms. One reason is that many Corkran students are avoiding the bathrooms unless they absolutely must use them.

This policy is actually six years old, but parents and others have begun to take offense. Anyone familiar with adolescent psychology knows that middle school students are extremely self-conscious about their bodies. Whether it is going to the bathroom or using a mirror to dab on make-up to hide a pimple, the most simple task can become a major crisis if not done with the utmost privacy. Opening the bathrooms to the school hallways has to be among the more psychologically humiliating and insensitive policies a school could adopt.

What message do students receive when they see doors on the school's faculty bathrooms, but none on theirs? The most obvious is that they are second-class humans, undeserving of minimal privacy.

Teen-agers behave to expectations. Corkran's doorless bathrooms telegraph the administration's low expectations of them.

When a few misguided young people terrorized Anne Arundel schools last spring by phoning in repeated bomb threats, Superintendent Carol S. Parham decided that the system had to respond aggressively, or it would be perceived as a victim and bullied more. Removing the bathroom doors telegraphs that sense of vulnerability.

If the problem is maintaining order in the bathrooms, there are more sensible solutions.

Teachers and school administrators could patrol bathrooms during breaks or even periodically use student bathrooms. Corkran parents have volunteered to monitor bathrooms. The effort to curb the misbehavior by a few should not result in stripping every student of his or her dignity.

Pub Date: 9/26/97

HD Open-door policy of the worst kind; Anne Arundel school: No doors on Corkran Middle bathrooms symbolize surrender.

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