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  • November 18, 2017, 02:48:13 AM

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Author Topic: Girls, You Have Got to Respect Yourselves & Watch Your Hygiene--delicate matter  (Read 21280 times)

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Yarnspinner

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I'm putting this here even though it has to do with work.  Warning:  It.  Is.  Gross.

We have a, well, frankly, it's a "monthly" problem at our tiny library branch.  There are two "gender neutral" bathrooms on the main floor (they will soon be relabeled as "Male" and "Female" when we get new signage) and two bathrooms in our meeting room areas that are gender specific, plus a staff bathroom.

I'm cutting through a lot of other background to jump right to the main point.

We have a problem once a month with at least one young lady (we are almost certain of her identity) who leaves behind a sometimes spectacular horror show type mess.    She won't wrap her used hygiene products and, since the rooms are gender neutral, we are not allowed any of those receptacles for said products.  They all go into the same small trash can and nine times out of ten, once a month, there are her products, on top of the pile.  This is bad enough, but nearly every single month at least once and sometimes twice, the toilet seat is raised and the rim is covered in bloody urine and the toilet is unflushed.  I suppose we should be happy that she leaves the seat up.  Once this happens, the room is pretty much unusable.  We do not have a janitor on the premises (and even if we did, he complains about having to clean up messes) so we try to clean up, but it's not our job and we don't have the appropriate tools.  I have learned from experience that flushing a clogged toilet is a good way to ensure having a flooded bathroom.

The other women on the staff and I have talked about this and talked about this.  Finally, they agreed that I needed to take ALL the younger girls aside, either individually or in groups, to give them a gentle talk about feminine hygiene and self respect.  Thing is, I am not sure that's such a good idea, especially the "individually" part.  I don't want to be accused of sexually harassing a clueless young woman (she's about 14) about her monthly cycle.  I'm not even sure what I would say that didn't sound accusatory.  ("Millie, hi, we're noticing some problems in the main bathrooms, and we're warning all the girls to be careful about wrapping their hygiene products and flushing when they leave the bathroom.?")

So the branch manager and I have hashed this out and have come to the conclusion that the teen librarian and I should have workshops for girls that deal with growing up, puberty, self respect and, yes, monthly cycles and how to navigate them.  I am very enthusiastic about the idea, but am still swinging on the door handle about it.  HOW does one say this to kids who are not your own?  Am I really authorized to lead chats about hygiene?  I'm thinking of dragging in a friend who is a nurse to address one of these sessions, but then she will leave. 

The library branch manager and I have kicked the idea around some more and decided we might add in other "empowerment" work shops (as much as I hate the term "empowerment).  Any ideas what we would cal; such a program and how we might address it?

Jones

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Since it'll be a workshop and a library (great idea IMO especially with having multiple topics) why not use books and name it after those? "The Care and Keeping of You", "OM- I'm a Teen", "Head to Toe Guide to You" etc?
A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems. CS Lewis

amylouky

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Is this young lady an employee, volunteer, or patron? I'm not sure how you would have authority to speak to patrons about this sort of thing. Workshops would be great, but there's no guarantee the ones who need it would attend.
I'd go with signage, myself. Sadly, there was a need to put such signs in my work's bathrooms, and we're all (chronologically, anyway) adults. We have receptacles with the wax paper bags in them, and signs that remind everyone to use them and clean up after themselves.
Also, I don't really understand this part:   "She won't wrap her used hygiene products and, since the rooms are gender neutral, we are not allowed any of those receptacles for said products."     Surely it would be less offensive for a man to see a closed receptacle for feminine products than to see the actual products in an open garbage can?

Zizi-K

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How about just putting up a sign in the bathrooms that say: "please wrap any personal items with toilet paper prior to disposal and please leave the bathroom as you found it - clean up after yourself!"

Having a workshop on puberty seems to be the looooong way around the problem when you know who the individual is that is causing it. Asking this girl directly to clean up after herself is hardly sexual harassment.

You might also simply invest in a garbage can with a lid.

DanaJ

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I'm not sure the workshops would work. If someone is a terrible driver, but they don't know it, they probably wouldn't attend a remedial driver's education workshop ("That's not for me, I already know how to drive.")

TootsNYC

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If you are pretty sure it's one specific person, why are you not simply approaching her, discreetly, and asking in a kind way. And then give her some tips and info.

A lot of times, kids don't know how they're supposed to handle it.

My cabinmates at camp are the ones who pointed out that I should wrap those pads. It just never occurred to me. I didn't at home, and nobody in my family paid any attention to it. The idea that it would gross people out just never occurred to me.

And if she's having this problem frequently, then she clearly doesn't *know* how to handle it. And nobody else apparently needs that info.

I don't think you need all that much "official authority" to do this other than being a staff member of the library and designated to do it because you have the interpersonal skill to do so.

Say, "We've been having some tidiness problems in the bathroom, and we're trying to figure out who is involved. We're worried about health, and we also have a favor to ask of whoever it is.
    "Someone has been simply putting their products in the garbage, and it grosses a lot of people out to look at them. And sometimes there is red fluid on the toilet itself.
   "Because of the timing, we wondered if it could be you that we should work with. Do you put those things in there without wrapping them in anything? Are you having trouble with getting fluids on the seat?
    "Can we help you in any way? Can we ask you to wrap those in toilet paper, and push them to the bottom of the trash can? And do you know why we end up with fluid on the seat?"

I'd also put a canister of Lysol disinfectant wipes in there somewhere, so you can steer her (or anybody else) to those. And maybe rubber gloves.


Also: I don't understand this:
Quote
since the rooms are gender neutral, we are not allowed any of those receptacles for said products.  They all go into the same small trash can

"Not allowed"? Why would gender-specific add-ons be "not allowed" in a gender-neutral bathroom ?

OK, so you don't have those. (Do you realize that they are simply tiny trash cans that sometimes have close-fitting lids? And often don't?)

But you have trash cans. You can get a second trash can w/ a lid and put it right next to the toilet, with a label. (and put the open trash can over by the door; ladies will be more likely to use the nearby trash can) Or you can put a stack of brown lunch bags in the bathroom with a note that says, "Ladies, please use these bags to put your used sanitary products in before putting them in the [regular] trash can."

I must be really germophilic, because I just can't get upset about this kind of stuff. I routinely wipe down fluids from the toilet and toilet seat.  That's what soap is for.

TootsNYC

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also--what does this problem have to do with "respecting yourself"? I don't get that at all.

Respecting other people, maybe. But I think it's way more likely that it simply  has to do with "understanding logistics" or "figuring out what to do when I make a mess."



(Edited to fix a typo in the bolded word; I left off the "t" at first)
« Last Edit: June 05, 2015, 11:37:52 AM by TootsNYC »

EMuir

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I would put a bigger trash can in there, maybe with a swinging lid. I would then put signs in the stalls like "please do not flush tampons, wipes, or sanitary pads". 

Can cleaning supplies be stocked in the bathroom so that if someone DOES make a mess, they can clean it up themselves?

I would really hesitate to single out anyone, especially if the bathrooms are used by the public.

TootsNYC

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I would put a bigger trash can in there, maybe with a swinging lid. I would then put signs in the stalls like "please do not flush tampons, wipes, or sanitary pads". 

Add the words: "Wrap in tissue first, please."

(but tampons are really not something most people are comfortable handling very much at all--though you shouldn't flush them.)

Aquamarine

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Put up the signage and add appropriate disposal bins to the stalls.  If conditions don't change I would ask this young woman not to return if she is an employee or volunteer, she is creating a workplace biohazard and that is unacceptable.  Every time the bathroom becomes unusable call the powers that be inform them of the situation and ask that it be cleaned appropriately.  This will ensure that they are invested in the problem and seeking resolution.  Even if she is a customer I think she should be able to ask not to return.  I can't go into a store and do this without risking being ejected and I don't see why a library should be different.
Always be polite, even to nasty people. Not because they are nice, but because you are.

Aquamarine

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also--what does his problem have to do with "respecting yourself"? I don't get that at all.

Respecting other people, maybe. But I think it's way more likely that it simply  has to do with "understanding logistics" or "figuring out what to do when I make a mess."

I don't think this is a "his" problem.
Always be polite, even to nasty people. Not because they are nice, but because you are.

stargazer

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Yeah this is about respecting other people more than self respect.  I would go with signs and another trash can in any case, not workshops where there is no guarantee that the girl would go.  Very clear signs. 

I am also confused about whether you have a janitor or not.  You said:  "We do not have a janitor on the premises (and even if we did, he complains about having to clean up messes)"

Yvaine

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also--what does his problem have to do with "respecting yourself"? I don't get that at all.

Respecting other people, maybe. But I think it's way more likely that it simply  has to do with "understanding logistics" or "figuring out what to do when I make a mess."

I don't think this is a "his" problem.

That is a typo for "this," I'm pretty sure.

I think she's a patron, FWIW.

TootsNYC

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also--what does his problem have to do with "respecting yourself"? I don't get that at all.

Respecting other people, maybe. But I think it's way more likely that it simply  has to do with "understanding logistics" or "figuring out what to do when I make a mess."

I don't think this is a "his" problem.

that was a typo--sorry.

"this problem"

Psychopoesie

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Sometimes people don't know what to do. Maybe they haven't been taught at home or they've come from a country with different types of toilets/arrangements for these things.

At Uni there are these signs explaining how to use the toilets and dispose of feminine hygeine products.

http://ideas.health.vic.gov.au/resources/water-flush-toilet.asp

Maybe try something like this first to see if it helps with the problem (confess I skipped the whited out parts but read the rest). Or put up a note about the specific issue.

Unless you are *really* sure of the person doing it, I can't see a good outcome from approaching young girls about how to manage menstruation.Not something I would have wanted to discuss with a stranger - then or now.  Just no. And framing it as "respecting yourself" would seem very 1950s sex ed (wasn't around then but was given a book of that vintage as a teen - lucky me).

As to the seminars - they seem well intended but what exactly are they about? Giving enough information to fix the toilet issue? Providing sex education? Educating about hygeine? Is there an age group you're targeting? If they're teenagers, do they need parental permission to attend? What if they ask about sexual health issues? If you want to go ahead, maybe have a look at what resources are available for support teachers who have to cover these topics.

A quick google showed up this Australian resource (guess there'd be something more relevant to where you live):

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/social/physed/pages/resources.aspx#link88

As an aside, having some gender neutral toilets available is a great idea. However, they really need to be set up so *anyone* can use them. That means having the right facilities for everyone.

Six people posted as I was typing - had a quick look and hope this isn't too repetitive.