A father of three girls was told that his daughter’s severe period pains were not a legitimate reason to drop out of school – and were counted as an unauthorized absence.
Marcus Alleyne contacted his 13-year-old daughter Izzy’s school to let them know she wasn’t coming because she felt sick and left a message on voicemail.
30 minutes later the school called back to inquire about the nature of the problem and when he explained that it was serious period pain they said it was not a legitimate reason and it was flagged as an “unauthorized absence” report Plymouth Live.
Marcus said, “If I had said that she had migraines, I wouldn’t be having this conversation.
“I’ve been thinking about what we could do. I contacted the school to arrange a meeting with the student welfare officer, but I haven’t heard anything yet. “
After talking to his wife Jo and daughter Marcus posted a petition Call for “Period pain (dysmenorrhea) as a legitimate reason for absenteeism in schools”.
Marcus said, “I’m sure a lot of women would agree that at some point they had severe dysmenorrhea [the term used to describe painful periods]yes, there is actually a medical term for ‘period pain’.
“The reason for this terminology is because it is a globally recognized condition with a variety of approaches to treatment, from over-the-counter pain relief and a hot water bottle to surgery.
“By not allowing absences due to dysmenorrhea to do what you do by considering them unauthorized, it shows very marked differences, and registering absences due to a disease that affects only women is clear evidence.”
Marcus added, “Not only do we need to significantly change the institutions responsible for nurturing our young women and future female leaders, we also need to educate the prehistoric mindsets of policymakers and decision-makers.”
One parent replied to the petition, “I wish I could sign this petition a million times !!! from a man! Show other men that they can make a difference in the world if they too stand up against inequality and sexism. It’s not just a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue, don’t leave us alone to fight the discrimination done to this father to stand up for your girls and all girls and menstruating people. Amazing.”
Marcus said, “I think some people have been especially encouraged that it’s a father who stands up for young women, but I think that’s just because of the way we were fed – that it’s just a” women’s problem “is, but it is not. It is a social problem, we are all part of society and if it affects one, it affects everyone.
“There has to be a change in mindset, not just in schools. One of my friends was struggling to understand what I was getting, so I gave him an example: You had a stroke and need an operation, and the neurosurgeon happened. ” being a woman who was menstruating at the time and because she was conditioned by society that although she is in pain, although she feels terrible, with excruciating stomach cramps that must be ignored, going to work and performing complicated operations because that’s what we’ve always expected, I asked him how comfortable he would feel with it.
“In schools, too, there is now the additional pressure that if you use the toilet more often than is considered acceptable in class, for example for medical reasons, you have to present a medical certificate. need to go to the toilet more often, but you don’t get a doctor’s certificate for that.
“For some young women and girls, the process of understanding menstruation begins at school – and often not with a teacher. But why don’t we equip male teachers with the same advice and support to understand this? when it comes to policy making, let’s face it – most schools are mostly male leaders. “
Marcus added, “Being a father to three daughters helped me understand [the issue more], besides, my mom was around and I had sisters around, so that’s how I got to know the subject. For me it [menstruation] was part of the norm long before I met and married my first girlfriend.
“We have access to education in school, so why is menstruation still a stigma in 2021, why is it not discussed.
“The message that is being conveyed is: ‘You have to go to work when you are not feeling well, you have to deliver, swallow it’.
“I think after everything we went through during the lockdown, and the greater understanding and focus on physical and mental health, that message is just twisted.”
Marcus said his daughter Izzy was “really great” about the petition and read the positive responses from the signatories – who have already garnered around 27,000 signatures.
He said, “She said there have been conversations between her and her colleagues to raise awareness, but I think the most important thing for her is to realize that, although she and her colleagues are only 13 years old, have a voice – a powerful voice.
“It’s about using it effectively while being kind and considerate that they can still change something.
“The previous generations had a ‘children should be seen and not heard’ mindset, but these are our future leaders, future doctors, lawyers, garbage collectors, construction workers, musicians. We will not be there forever and if they say ‘this works for us not us anymore ‘, then as adults we have a duty to listen, not to go and mess up the world and expect them to clean it up afterwards “.
To add your name to Marcus’ petition visit the page here.
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