Exterior doors taken off of washrooms at some Waterloo Region schools
Due to safety concerns, the exterior doors of washrooms at certain schools in Waterloo Region have been removed.
Jacob Hespeler Secondary School is among the schools in the area to have most of its exterior washroom doors removed, leaving students and parents with privacy concerns.
Ella Barker, a grade 11 student at the Cambridge high school, says the bathroom was considered a safe space prior to this decision.
“Sometimes I feel emotional and I want to go to the bathroom and I don’t feel comfortable going by myself when the doors are open and they can hear you,” she said.
Barker says she doesn’t plan on using these bathrooms because it provides “no privacy at all,” and she’s heard boys are standing outside and trying to look in.
“The decision to remove doors was in response to safety concerns raised by students and parents along with support from staff,” a statement from the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) reads in part.
“There have been issues around vandalism and this decision was made so supervision monitors can hear voices when students are congregating and smell vaping, which helps them respond to keep students safe,” a WRDSB spokesperson said. “We have ensured that no one can see directly into the bathrooms.”
Some students say the decision is frustrating for students not causing the problems.
“It was mostly a few soap dispensers and I think a mirror was broken but that was it," said Jacob Hespeler student Sarah Beal. "It’s not like every student was doing that. It’s not fair to every other student that wasn’t."
Bathroom mirrors were also removed due to vandalism and privacy concerns.
“Other schools in the WRDSB have also removed doors going back two years, and there are six schools that don’t have outer doors,” the school board said.
WRDSB adds that they communicated the change at a school council meeting in November.
Parents of students at Jacob Hespeler, like Ashley McBride, say they were unaware of any public consultation and have voiced their concerns on social media.
“I can’t imagine being a young teenage girl in high school and not having a door, like with my peers there, you’re just embarrassed to begin with. It’s not a good situation for their mental health,” said McBride. “They need to give back their doors, their mirrors, their rights.”
Colleen Willard-Holt, a Waterloo Region educational psychologist, said this could impact a student’s emotional security at school.
“They need to have a place that they feel that’s private and that other people can’t see or overhear them,” said the former dean of the faculty of education at Wilfrid Laurier University.