A father has created an online petition to make period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, a legitimate reason for school absences after his daughter was not excused from missing classes due to her bothersome menstruation.
A 13-year-old secondary student in Britain, Izzy Allyne experienced a sleepless night dealing with her period pain. Her father, Marcus Allyne, told Sky News that they did not feel it was right to have her go to class as she was unwell. So, he and his wife told her to stay home and rest.
However, the school documented his daughter's case as an "unauthorized absence," though the family expected it would be considered an "illness." It sparked concern from the father, who said that male school officials are likely ignorant about period pain.
'We didn't feel as parents it was right to send her in'— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 4, 2021
Marcus Alleyne is fighting to allow period pain to be recorded as a legitimate reason to be absent from school, after he was told his 13-year-old daughter would be marked as ‘unauthorised absence’https://t.co/7OFMVzpv73 pic.twitter.com/LMoQY6kYKA
Period Pain is a Medical Condition
Marcus, a dad to three daughters, said in his online petition on Change.Org that period pain is a medical condition that women, trans men, nonbinary, and genderqueer people experience on a case-to-case basis. Dysmenorrhea, as it is medically termed, entails different treatment approaches, and there are medications for its pain relief, including surgical interventions for a fraction of the women population with severe cases.
The father said they got in touch with the school to let them know that Izzy would not be going to class due to a medical condition. Marcus said that he did not feel it was important to divulge what it was since the school workers are not medical workers.
"I would not freely discuss my daughter's health needs without her consent," the father said.
However, he was taken aback by the school's action for not accepting Izzy's reason. He concluded that some school rules should change as it is not conducive to learning, will not empower kids, and will not create equity for all students.
Thousands of people agreed with the dad as more than 70,000 signed the petition.
"Heavy periods and stomach cramps are no fun, please take young women seriously," one signee said, adding that she experienced ridicule from her teachers for missing classes because she was menstruating.
"I'm signing because I'm a bloke and don't have to cope with this every month," a male supporter said. "I know from general knowledge that some women are hardly affected mentally or physically while others are badly incapacitated. No one should be penalized for their unavoidable physical or mental disability or be made to justify it."
The Department of Education also responded to the petition, saying that it understood period pains could cause discomfort and create disruption for students. The representative who commented on the petition also noted that schools could authorize absences as it deems fit, and they should discuss the reasons with the student or the family.
The response, however, had some supporters saying that a man likely wrote it as it was a "non-response" and did not address the Allyne family's issue.
Prevalence of Dysmenorrhea
According to the National Library of Medicine, 16 to 19 percent of women of reproductive age suffer from period pain, and two to 29 percent of these women develop severe dysmenorrhea.
Dysmenorrhea may be exacerbated by a women's physical condition (obese), diet and habits (smoking), or if they are depressed and abused. Some women's period pain alleviates as they age because of their use of oral contraceptives. It could get worse, however, if they are constantly exposed to a highly stressful environment.
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