Coronavirus: Schools re-opening may cause spike says expert
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Marcus Alleyne, who lives with his wife and three girls in the St Austell area said the matter to notice last week when his eldest daughter, 13-year Izzy felt ill. Having followed the protocol of contacting the school via the telephone answerphone service, stating that his daughter was unwell and would not be attending, Mr Alleyne thought the matter had been laid to bed.
However, a short time later, the school called back asking what was wrong with his daughter.
The father of three stated that Izzy was feeling ‘really rotten’ and was suffering from ‘serious period pains’.
He was appalled when the school then informed him that this was not a legitimate reason for missing school and that her record would show an ‘unauthorised absence’ as a result.
Mr Alleyne, 37, who is a former Royal Navy medic and the vice-chair of Black Voices Cornwall, as well as a musician, conductor and director, said he was shocked.
“If I had said she was suffering a migraine then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Speaking about what he would do next, Mr Alleyne said: “it got me thinking about what we could do. I contacted the school to reschedule a meeting with the student welfare officer, but I haven’t heard anything yet.”
Following a conversation with his wife Jo and his children, Mr Alleyne posted up a petition with his thoughts on the matter, with the challenge, ‘ Period Pains need to be a legitimate reason for absence in schools’.
Stating more detail about the matter, he said: “I’m sure many women would agree, that at some stage, they have suffered significantly from Dysmenorrhoea yes… there is actually a medical term for period pains.”
He went on to say: “The reason for this terminology is due to its being a globally recognised medical condition, with a variety of treatment approaches, from over the counter pain relief and a hot water bottle, to surgical interventions.”
Taking a swipe at the rationale the school used, Mr Alleyne said: “by not allowing absences due to Dysmenorrhoea, which you are doing by considering them unauthorized, shows very clear disparities, and registering absences as unauthorized due to a medical condition only affecting women is a clear demonstration.”
Suggesting a solution to the problem, Mr Alleyne said: “we need to make significant changes not only to the institutions responsible for nurturing our young women and future female leaders, but also need to educate prehistoric mindsets of the policy creators and decision-makers.”
With education being an important ant factor in understanding periods, Mr Alleyne said: “For some young women and girls, the process for understanding menstruation starts in schools – and more often than not it’s given to a female teacher.
“But why aren’t we equipping male teachers with the same advice and support, to understand this?
“When it comes to making policy, let’s be honest – most school’s senior leadership is predominantly males.”
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Many people took to the petition backing Mr Alleyne’s cause, with many pleased to see someone had finally taken a stance.
One comment on the forum wrote: “I wish I could sign this petition a million times!!!
“Not only are all the points valid and important, but I’m so, so proud that this has been brought to the table for addressing by a man, showing other men that they can make a difference to the world if they too stand up against inequality and sexism.”
Marcus explained: “I think some people have been particularly encouraged that it’s a dad standing up for young women, but I think that’s only because of the way we’ve been fed – that it’s only a “woman’s problem”, but it’s not, it’s a social problem. We’re all part of society and if it affects one it affects all.
So far, the petition has reached over 22,500 signatures, hitting 1,000 in just six minutes.
Concluding, the proud father said: “the previous generations had that ‘children should be seen and not heard’ attitude, but these are our future leaders, future doctors, lawyers, refuse workers, builders, musicians.
“We’re not going to be around forever and if they say ‘this doesn’t work for us anymore’ then we as adults have a duty to listen, not to go and make a mess of the world and expect them to clean it up afterwards.”
Mr Alleyne said his daughter Izzy has been “really great” about the petition and has read the positive responses from signatories.
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