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opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Posted by JanetT (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 23, 05 at 16:26

My daughter's Dearborn, Michigan elementary school completed construction of a new gym / indoor swimming pool this summer. Consequently, swimming is being taught as part of PE now. This part I think is great, as it's a really nice pool & program. However, my objection is that the girl's showers were built without any privacy partitions and students have to shower after swimming lessons. I asked my daughter's new 4th grade teacher to excuse her from swimming, but I was shocked that the teacher say's it's school policy and she can't approve a blanket excuse!

I told her that, because of the privacy issue, the school policy wasn't legal unless they allowed excuses when parents requested. My teacher said that this didn't apply for this magnet school as I could easily send my daughter to any 20 public elementary schools in Dearborn. If parent's don't like one public school's policy all they have to do is find a public school which they prefer. And with public school choice, this is a lot easier than moving to a new school district (Michigan has state-wide public school choice).

I really like this school otherwise and don't want to have to send my daughter to a different school over this one issue. I think Public school choice is becoming more and more common. Can school's really use public school choice as an excuse to not change unfair school policies?

- Janet

PS Also on another topic...why can't we have real school choice instead of just the so-called public school choice.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I think you should go above the teacher, maybe to the principle. When I was a kid, and swam at the public pool, we all showered with our swimsuits on, I wonder if that is a possibility for her. Even though I know swimming is great exercise, I hate when they force you to take it in school. In high school, we were forced to take swimming also. Everyone just around puberty, it was mortifying to say the least.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

There are very few accomodations anywhere for female modesty! Every athletic club, camp, boarding school, public school I have been to has maybe one or two curtained shower spaces and a huge room full of shower heads. I have no idea who decides this. Architects and budgets, I imagine.

You are fortunate in being able to attend the public you choose as opposed to being forced to attend the one where you live. It seems odd to me that if the public schools are administered from the same source that they would have widely differing policies. That makes no sense. Are you taking the teacher's word for this or have you gone above her?


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Public school choice is becoming more and more common. And it does add an extra angle on the school shower issue. If parent's don't like one public school's required shower policy, they can theoretically just find a public school which allows optional showers. And with public school choice, this is easier than moving to a entire new school district.

Personally, I think kids benefit from having to shower during school PE. School is a great time to teach and start this health habit. Also, it seems to me that introducing school showers at the elementary age should be a lot easier on kids then waiting until middle school where kids are probably much more shower shy and having to deal with adolescence for the 1st time as well.

Overly-modesty-focused (in my opinion) parents could drive across town to a new school to 'protect' their children from PE showers, but I doubt even the most shower phobic parents would go this extreme. I suppose Michigan public schools could theoretically split on the required school shower issue and everyone could be happy, unless there was state law on PE and showers etc. that all public schools must follow.

Even though I'm really for school showers, I still do think parents should always have the right to exempt their child if they wish. This is too sensitive of a topic to too many people (religious or not) to ignore parent's wishes. Incidentally, there was a TV comedy show (Freaks & Geeks) on School Showers not to long ago:

http://entertainment.msn.com/movies/movie.aspx?m=18809

I think if you write a note and (if needed) go to the principal, your magnet school will almost certainly accomodate your wishes.

Thanks for the really interesting points on public school choice,

Lynn

PS fyi, From what I've read, school showers are more common in Michigan than on other states. See this article which even describes nude swimming in Michigan's public schools a few decades ago:

http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/nudism.htm

Here is a link that might be useful: Recent TV SitCom


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I had to take showers after swimming in HS. Our showers had curtains that somewhat covered up the shower opening but we all showered in our bathing suits and changed out in the changing area. We were really creative at getting our underclothes on while keeping on our towels :)
Girls that were uncomfortable changing in front of others could go into the bathrooms and change.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

When I was in high school in the 50's, we moved to a big city and I was totally embarrassed because I had to shower with everyone. Looking back it didn't hurt me, but I never got used it either. They had private shower stalls for the girls having their periods. I could have used that I guess. Do they still make the girls shower with the others now?


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Thanks everyone for the ideas and the support. I talked to the teacher again last week, and she finally agreed to excuse our daughter from showers if we want (basically the teacher backed away from the: "this is a magnet school: take it or leave it" attitude).

We then told our daughter she could not shower after PE from now on. But by then our daughter said she didn't want to be different than all her classmates and says she wants to shower and the group showers are just not a big deal to her.

My husband and I are still opposed to the communal nudity after school PE (we think in this day in age, students need to be given an option for privacy). However, we're not willing to isolate our daughter from her classmates over our own beliefs on this issue.

Outside of the PE shower issue, the school is really an incredibly good school. And we're happy our daughter hasn't been mortified or embarrassed by the school's shower policy.

However...I still remember my embarrassment of my own first middle school gym shower myself (which I slowly did get over)...and think schools these days should spare our kids the group showers after PE experience.

- Janet

PS

> Do they still make the girls shower with the others now?
>

PS I think this varies district by district. But there's a quite number of schools outside of Michigan that also might have group showers as part of PE.

In California some schools ( http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/ , http://ecr.lausd.k12.ca.us/ ) encourages PE showers by district policy ( http://www.bganssle.com/tsshowers.html )

Below is one public school case in which conflict arose between parents and the school's shower policy. One Jr. High Principal's Account:

http://www.unlv.edu/projects/ohpsp/p/133pleacher.html

Article Excerpts from the above article:

First pressure I felt as I started out as a principal and got into our new building was showers. For elementary kids coming into intermediate school, it was their first time that they faced having to take showers for physical education classes. And at that time, for some reason, this became a problem. I had a lot of parents coming in objecting to their son/daughter taking 'gang showers'.

...

A mother would come in complaining, and they wanted this to be a big PTA problem...

...

We met with the parents and tried to satisfy them and after we got the students started - we found out it was not the students who were complaining, it was strictly 'Mama' who was complaining in most cases.

...

The boys did not have an opportunity for a private shower, but most of them realized finally that it was no big deal to the kids. That was our first big thing.

PPS One British school which faced a large parental revolt on the introduction of school showers, put in shower curtains for a short while but then phased the curtains out. This way parents/students were introduced to school showers and the communal aspect was phased in as curtains were eventually all removed in subsequent months.

http://www.woodgreen.oxon.sch.uk/wgs_50/memories_staff_pupil/mr_pooley/early_years1.htm

Excerpt from above article:

A month after the school opened, the gymnasium, showers and cloakrooms were completed and trouble with the girls and their parents arose: did we really expect girl to undress and take a shower after PE lessons? There were several who were shocked at the very idea and pressed the moral dangers of the practice. Fortunately I had a mature woman PE teacher who gradually wore down these prejudices. We provided curtains for the girls' showers, but these were discarded within a year or two. These and many more diversions enlivened the first term.


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RE: school showers in PE

Hi everyone. I think it is a good idea for schools to start PE showers well before middle school. If there's going to be PE showers, schools should introduce them earlier, when students accept the routine much more easily and without the problems often encountered at the middle/high school level.

The school/PE shower issue has been much more controversial then it needs to be (see PS section). I think introducing school showers at earlier grade levels, really will make the issue much less controversial for all.

- Lynn

PS Below is a high school newspaper article on the gym shower issue:

Another news article and poll on UK School shower policy dispute is at:

http://www.misterpoll.com/4174720313.html

Here is a link that might be useful: school shower poll


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I think you are making a big deal out of something that is very ordinary....unless she has some physical deformity...or is hugely over weight or something of the sort.
It is perfectly natural for kids of that age to be embarrassed by nudity.....and it is perfectly normal and usual for a school to require a shower after swimming. I would tell her that's just the way it is.....and even adults dress and undress in front of other members of the same sex after swimming and to just not make a big deal out of it.
By making a fuss and getting her excused from something that others in her class are doing yoiu are singling her out as "odd" and she will have a lot worse to deal with from that than showering nude with some other little girls in her class.
Linda C


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I think students should be given an option for privacy, but with rising school costs usually the little things fall by the wayside (but if they can afford a pool, why not shower stalls with doors?). Plus, many adults forget what it was like to be a young insecure girl (even one who is not hugely overweight or deformed!)who maybe doesn't want to walk around naked in front of her whole class. I hope if we get into this situation (my district just built a new pool) I won't tell my daughter that's just the way it is.

I agree with the shower with the swimsuit on. That would also rinse the pool water from the suit.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

overprotective parents do not help their kids, they make things worse.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

If my daughters were uncomfortable showering w/ the other girls I would push the issue. A 4th grader certainly has the right to not be nude under any circumstances which make them feel uncomfortable. In this day and age, it's ridiculous and bizarre to force them to strip naked and shower in front of classmates (I'm hoping teachers are not permitted in the dressing rooms). Is it supposed to prepare for for the real world where large groups of women shower together? How silly. I've been in dozens of gyms, dorms, pools, camp grounds, and spas and haven't seen in a public shower where their were no private stalls since I was in 8th grade.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I think as parents we may be making a big issue out of privacy for children. Don't get me wrong, it is a good thing, but we may take it too far. Here is just one example related to showering at school. My mother grew up in an era where the girls showered together after PE. I grew up in an era where we had private showers at the school. Now when we go to the gym to work out together, my mother has no problem changing, while I'm looking for a bathroom stall to hide in. I think my mother learned in school that there are many different body shapes and sizes, and all are normal and nothing to be ashamed of. I don't have that confidence. Perhaps if I was forced to shower with the other girls I would have that stronger self image.

Here is a link that might be useful: a public elementary school that has showers after PE


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I don't think that public nudity builds self-esteem.

I had no issue with it. I showered in high school and had to change in a group dressing room during dance.

However, I don't think that really matters on a self-esteem level. As an adult, public nudity is a choice. And I don't think that not desiring public nudity is revealing a serious phobia. It indicates a level of modesty. Is being modest a real problem? I hardly think so.

I would have two concerns in general. One, does my child feel comfortable doing it? If so, fine. If not, then arrangements need to be made, like rinsing off in a suit. If a school 'requires' a student to strip off that suit, THAT would be bizarre to me. (Do they also have a suggested soaping method? @@) Who would be monitoring that anyway? Why would they care?

The other issue would be the presence of adults. I would be completely opposed to the presence of adults in or near the shower area during this time. This includes teachers or support people of any kind.

Btw, I think that if a chld prefers not to bathe nude, they don't need more than a reason than that. From the very beginning, we teach these kids that their bodies are their own. Private. But 'except when you're in the gym"? Nope. If that kid's body belongs to her, she gets to decide whether or not she strips.

It's that simple.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Bravo, smom40! Well said.

At the gym I attend, there is only one woman who struts around naked - all the other women prefer privacy in which to shower and dress - and most of us feel quite uncomfortable with the exhibitionist.

No one, no matter what age, should ever be forced to be nude in front of others.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Ah the memories! :)

When I was in high school in Ohio 30 years ago, it must have been a rule that we shower after PE. The teacher checked us off and everything. Here's what we did: Go into the gang shower wrapped in a towel. Get our hand wet. Leave the shower and show the teacher the wet hand as "proof". They only gave us about 90 seconds to shower and dress. I'm not sure how we were supposed to take a real shower anyway.

It was a great use of the don't ask/don't tell policy.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

You know I was thinking about this post the other day. There are so many things we did in middle and high school to prepare us for life in the "real world".

But showering communally is not something I have ever had to do since becoming an adult!!! :-)


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

i remember junior high and dreading gym day, it made me physically sick to my stomach to know that i would have to strip down completely naked and shower with my classmates. i wasn't fat, nor did i have any gross abnormalities, i just wasn't comfortable with group nudeness. if my (now 7) year old daughter has similar feelings when she reaches middle school, i will do whatever i can do to see that she is not forced to shower as part of a group. i am not a prude but i see nothing wrong with modesty, i will be very happy to intervene on my daughter's behalf should this issue arise.
more and more schools these days are adopting dress codes. they themselves are putting an emphasis on modesty with rules regarding skirt length, spaghetti straps, short shirts that show the naval and plunging necklines. why would they still insist on forcing a child to become butt naked in front of a bunch of classmates?


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I too live in Dearborn (Heights) and the shower issue isn't a big deal. Have you ever watched kids swim teams in the locker room? it's play time to them at that age. It's way better than middle school! Yes, you can take one with your suit on (as do I still). You still have to change, though!


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Privacy and "modesty" are not absolute rights. Schools have every right to require communal showers for hygienic reasons, and if we accept the principle that they are there to teach the "whole child" they also have the right to require them in order to demystify the whole idea of nudity. Every culture has its ideas of modesty, but for heaven's sake we take it to an unhealthy extreme.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

But what if your child is 'substantially different' than the others his or her age? My child has a medical condition that has caused him to complete puberty at an age where most of his class-mates haven't even started it. In a public shower environment, I can't see how his differences would be overlooked...


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Gee, I feel for all the children who dread showering.

This is not an issue in most of the schools in Australia.

The children have PE, they wear their sports uniforms to school on that day.

If they get hot and sweaty, I guess its too bad.

No showers at the schools.

When I was at school, many moons ago, we had to change into our sports uniform, do sport then change back into the school uniform. This was in a change room, with all girls together. No nudity going on, though.

P


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Apart from the public showering that is causing you the most concern--Your child(children) are so lucky to be going to a school with an indoor pool. Swimming lessons is a excellent addition to a PE program.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Dirtboysmom, actually.

I don't believe that children should be forced to strip naked to take a shower after swimming. Many families teach modesty as a part of their values and forcing a child in school to have to go against her family-learned values is wrong.

I was one of the first girls in my class to get my period and it was always very, very heavy, lasted more than a week and came about every 21 days. I would have been mortified to even get into a bathing suit when having my period, let alone having to strip and go around naked with blood running down my legs.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Men have been doing this forever and they are not near as self conscious about their bodies as women are. I think the young lady has a more normal attitude about it than the parents. We often pass on our beliefs to our children and they are not always the best beliefs. My problem was that no one did showers where I moved from. I don't even remember having a gym class before our move to the big city.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

lynsgarden and surobbins...Are you kidding?!?!? And surobbins, your response is especially unbelievable, and worrisome, as you "actually believe" that you are "helping" to
teach the "whole child" by requiring them to take communal showers! This helps to develop the whole child...how exactly? By telling them to shut up and get into the communal showers regardless of how they personally feel about being naked in front of all their classmates??????? This is about as personal as it gets, and "EVERYONE" should have the right to make this choice!!!!!!!!!!! What about the kid with a weight problem, or the one who hit puberty way before any of the other kids! They should have the right to "choose" whether they are comfortable in a group shower setting, and if they are not, they should have "EVERY" right to be respected for their desire not to be naked in front of the kids they go to school with!!!!

Your comment that privacy and modesty are not absolute rights. Are you kidding? I cannot think of anything more important that "should" be and absolute basic human right and choice for each individual to make!!!!

As we all know, children can be so cruel in their teasing! This situation would have to be very painful for any child who is different, or shy, or as dirtboysmom made a very strong point regarding heavy periods, or early periods, or is very, very late hitting puberty? How can we help a child to have a healthy self esteem, if instead of listening, and letting them choose what is right for them, we tell them to shut up and force them to do something they do not want to do???? And make them the butt of every joke in school?

And for both of you to insinuate that someone is extreme, or odd, or weird for not wanting to be naked in front of all their classmates is amazingly odd in itself.

And to try to twist this into something that "just" the "weird parent" objects to, is truly stunning! Does "anyone" actually fall for that nonsense? Can you not comprehend that many children would actually be uncomfortable being naked in front for all the kids at school???? I truly do not understand your inability to understand something so basic. But sadly, I do understand your desire to make anyone who does not agree with your views, appear weird, or extreme, or odd, so they will comply. Shame on you both for justifying it, all the while telling yourselves that you are doing something good! That you are enlightened and will teach the "whole child" ...even if you are actually unwilling to "hear" what the child has to say.

And jiggreen, I fully agree with you.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

You are totally missing the point....no one is naked "in front of all their class mates" they are naked with their classmates...everyone is naked together and by giving your child "special permission" to refrain you are making her odd....different and someone to be made fun of.
Public schools are are a priviledge.....and to have one with a pool an especial priviledge. Go with the flow, teach your daughter to forget about herself....because no one really cares if she is naked or not or fat or skinny or whatever....because they are too busy worrying about themselves.
By getting your child excused from showering in gym you will insure her unpopularity and insure other kids making fun of her and her being the subject of a lot of discussion.

Linda C


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I respectfully disagree. Your comment that no one really cares if the kid is fat or skinny or whatever, is naive' and wishful thinking at best, but as any kid who is different can tell you, these differences can and do make life "very" painful because kids can be so cruel. Being naked "with" your classmates, as opposed to "in front of" makes little difference if you are the kid who is fat, or developed way beyond your peers, or way behind your peers, or is different in any way. To tell your kid to forget about her self and go with the flow, is utterly useless advice, because who in the world would forget about themselves while standing naked around everyone they know, if you were the one who was fat, or different. Talk about a situation where you would be hyper aware of your differences, this is it! And to think that the others kids are not snickering at the kid who is different, when that kid is at their most vulnerable, is simply either massive denial, or simply being extremely naive, as to how kids behave and the pain they can and do inflict on a classmate who is "different".

I simply cannot understand how you can be so insensitive and unable to comprehend how difficult this would be for some children. How can you not see that?

Perhaps if you imagined yourself "different" and naked in front of everyone you know. Imagine yourself 100 pounds overweight, perhaps with one breast larger than the other, with acne on your back, and you are "required" to be naked in front of everyone you know, (or excuse me, naked "with" everyone you know) and that you should understand what a privilege it is for you to be in a place with a swimming pool! And no opting out of group shower time allowed! Tell us then how much you appreciate the new swimming pool, and what a special privilege it is for you to get to swim in it with everyone you know! Are you kidding me?!?


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I respectfully disagree. Your comment that no one really cares if the kid is fat or skinny or whatever, is naive' and wishful thinking at best, but as any kid who is different can tell you, these differences can and do make life "very" painful because kids can be so cruel. Being naked "with" your classmates, as opposed to "in front of" makes little difference if you are the kid who is fat, or developed way beyond your peers, or way behind your peers, or is different in any way. To tell your kid to forget about her self and go with the flow, is utterly useless advice, because who in the world would forget about themselves while standing naked around everyone they know, if you were the one who was fat, or different. Talk about a situation where you would be hyper aware of your differences, this is it! And to think that the others kids are not snickering at the kid who is different, when that kid is at their most vulnerable, is simply either massive denial, or simply being extremely naive, as to how kids behave and the pain they can and do inflict on a classmate who is "different".

I simply cannot understand how you can be so insensitive and unable to comprehend how difficult this would be for some children. How can you not see that?

Perhaps if you imagined yourself "different" and naked in front of everyone you know. Imagine yourself 100 pounds overweight, perhaps with one breast larger than the other, with acne on your back, and you are "required" to be naked in front of everyone you know, (or excuse me, naked "with" everyone you know) and that you should understand what a privilege it is for you to be in a place with a swimming pool! And no opting out of group shower time allowed! Tell us then how much you appreciate the new swimming pool, and what a special privilege it is for you to get to swim in it with everyone you know! Are you kidding me?!?


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

It never ceases amaze me how some people can be so narrow-minded and believe that their way of thinking is the only and proper way.

Many schools have opted out of enforcing the requirement for communal showers after PE class due to fear of law suits from parents who do want their child forced into this activity. In addition, schools with Muslim students as well as families that believe that public nudity is not conducive to their child's development, have been required to provide private facilities for those students who still wish to shower but do not want to do so in front of classmates.

Many schools still say that a shower is required after PE class, but will back down in the face of a lawsuit or a very determined and vocal parent.

Parents can opt their children out of sex ed. and should be able to opt their children out of the communal shower requirement.

If you don't want your child to be forced to take a shower in school do not hesitate to speak up to the administration, be forceful and determined and do not hesitate to consult with an attorney well versed in dealing with schools.

It works - I did such when my kids' school system was trying to institute a separate dress code for middle school students because "they are different". It took some doing but the school system finally backed down and instituted a system-wide dress code. Actually, one of the school's reasons for trying to institute this separate code was that middle school children develop at such different rates and many were, and I believe I recall this correctly, "very uncomfortable in their changing bodies." Great argument for not making communal showers mandatory.

Please, posters, try to accept that your view is not the only one and that others have just as much right to their opinions as you have to yours.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I am simply stunned at their lack of compassion and understanding, and the utter unwillingness, or inability for them to grasp how tremendously difficult this would be for many children. That they seem to lack the ability to "imagine" just how hard this situation would be for "many children", (even those who are not different) and especially those who are different, and to actually "care" about those children, and respect their feelings!

And that some on this board actually believe it is their "right" to force children into something that most adults would find extremely uncomfortable, troubles me.

And to top it all off, that they actually believe that by forcing children into such a situation, they are actually able to convince themselves that they are helping to teach the "whole" child......this is alarming!

IMO, the children's choice on whether they participate in this or not should be respected. And it would be great if they offered alternate PE choices for those who did not feel like swimming. There are many ways to get some exercise in, and kids should have choices.

And last, kids should be able to keep diaper wipes and deodorant in their PE lockers, to wipe down before getting changed, or they should be able to wear PE clothes on PE days.


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A Question of Acceptance

I grew up during the 1960's, when mandatory showers wre usually the rule after phys ed, and many of the indoor pools at YMCA's encouraged swimming completely nude in all-male groups.

During those years,it was a hostile environment; I had undergone a spinal fusion two years before entering junior high, leaving me with a noticeable deformity in my torso. I also developed quite late sexually, so endured alot of tauntng, not to mention the stigma of being the last picked for competitive activites.

But the attitude changed completely when I entered college; almost all colleges now require learning to swim as a requirement for graduation, and mine was no exception. Most of the dumb-bullying "gangster element" had been directed to the University of Vietnam, so I was now learning in a more supportive environment, and had thesatisfaction of mastering a purely physical challenge for the first time (though it took a repeat of the course).

Since that time, I've always maintained a gym membership and swum laps regularly. A few of the older YMCA facilities weren't suited to co-ed conversion, and maintained nude swimming for males until the 1980's, but Title IX eventually scotched the practice.

There is a very strong division of the general attitude toward nudity and exposure in mens' locker rooms today. Most of us who grew up before 1990 or so think nothing of walking into an open shower, but for whatever reason, the "towel dance" is common among those under roughly age 35.

I have mixed feeligs about this. Overcoming a physical challenge without clothing allowed me to fully accept the atypical nature of my body and what happened to it, but the passage was often a rocky one.

And I cannot say I'm comfortable with the attitudes toward one's physical self engendered in many of our young men, particularly those raised by single moms. Your body should be viewed as a resource, to be maintained and conserved, even if flawed. But I've encountered a growing number of "she-males" who have come to consider it as a depreciatng asset or, worse still, a bargaining chip.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

"But I've encountered a growing number of "she-males" who have come to consider it as a depreciatng asset or, worse still, a bargaining chip."

I share your distaste --
But unfortunately, a good portion of the mainstream American media treats beautiful healthy young bodies in exactly that way.
The crime is in the treatment, not in acknowledging it.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I am kind of puzzled by a couple of comments:

"we think in this day in age, students need to be given an option for privacy"
and
"In this day and age, it's ridiculous and bizarre to force them to strip naked and shower in front of classmates (I'm hoping teachers are not permitted in the dressing rooms)"

What is so different about "this day and age"? What am I missing? Do these posters think that sexual abuse is more common in "this day and age" (whatever that is), or that communal showers would somehow contribute to that? Or is this about something else entirely?

I agree that it isn't a question of "be[ing] force[d] ... to strip naked and shower in front of classmates," as if they were doing it one at a time with the others as an audience. The girls are simply all changing and taking a shower at the same time. Just like women at the gyms they will someday be paying good money to join! The showers may be separate stalls with curtains, and there are usually a few dressing rooms, but many women just change clothes in the locker room without making a fuss about it. That's how the OP's daughter seems to feel about it, at least more than her mom does.

And I also am concerned that we don't send our daughters a message that their bodies are bad or shameful -- no matter WHAT they look like -- by expressing horror at the idea of communal showers. It is a vicious circle anyway, isn't it? If kids were USED to seeing all kinds of bodies, fat, thin, handicapped, birthmarked, old, etc., then they would be LESS likely to find differences strange or scary or even worthy of comment. I do think also that both offering vigorous enough PE to really work up a sweat that needs a shower and teaching hygeine are really important.

That said, I do think that a school ought to accomodate a child who really has a terrible problem with it, a religious objection, or something of that nature. But I would do that only in the same way I would accomodate any other phobia or special need -- e.g., if there were a child who had a stammer that really upset him/her, or a serious phobia about public speaking, I would excuse that child from having to recite in front of the class. But I wouldn't outlaw all recitation.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Why is a shower required after swimming? Why does the school care if you shower?

When we go on vacation, we go in the pool all the time and don't take showers after. When I was in HS, we'd do swimming and then come in the locker room and get dressed (no shower) -- it left us more time to do our hair and make-up which was much more important to us.

How dumb.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

...And shower curtains are not an option because....?

Easy. Talk to the principal. At my school, if I write a note, my kid can spin on his head all day if I so insist.

Showers are not meant to "teach" any social skills. It's silly to suggest that they do. Showers are for washing, period.

I wouldn't strip down in front of strangers as an adult, so why should my kid be forced to? I don't feel like my life is any less than some hairy armpit european free thinker public shower taking individual - I live in the USA, and here we are private. It is what it is. To force children to 'act as if' it weren't so, is abusive IMO.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I was very sad to read the previous post.

The poster is certainly entitled to her opinion on the question of showers for students. But bigotry and insulting language are not acceptable. Please do not destroy the polite and friendly atmosphere and tone that the rest of us have come to expect here.

These forums are not limited to residents of U.S. I apologize to all our European friends, and I hope that they realize that the previous poster does not represent or speak for the rest of us.

"I live in the USA, and here we are private," she wrote. Well, not everyone in the USA shares her ideas about privacy, and certainly not her ideas about people who disagree with them. Just as -- evidently -- there are exceptions to the generalization that here in the USA, we are friendly, open-minded, and polite.

Fortunately, most of us are. Please, everyone, let's keep these boards a pleasant place, even when we disagree.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Ok,here is something interesting to add to the table of this debate.
In my highschool and middle school we had showers. No one was forced to take a shower,but the option was open.Would you know that from 6th grade to 11th grade not ONE SINGLE PERSON EVER USED THAT SHOWER.It was not a shower with a curtain,but an open area where you are right next to your neighbor.
This tells me,that only are many of us moms against the publc showering,but so are the kids!
Also,what is wrong with them just showering when they get home? A little deodorant and they are fine until they can shower peacefully at home.
I'am a very modest person and I still do not change right out in front of other women either.If I dont know those women then I certainly dont want to share my most intimate details with them.
Showering at school needs to be kept "optional".


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

No one should ever be forced to take communal showers. For some of us who require privacy (me) it was extremely traumatic. Luckily our schools stopped after-phy ed showers about 15 years ago. Those who wanted to shower could, the rest didn't have to. Phy ed was the last class of the day so the kids could go home and shower if they wanted to.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

gelcom... Someone else also believed there was a difference to being naked "with" your classmates instead of "in front of". You can read my response on Wed., August 29..

I also think you are naive about your response that if kids are used to seeing kids that are fat, thin, handicapped, etc. they would be less likely to find it scary, or worthy of comment. Are you kidding me? Kids can be horrible to other children, even with their clothes on. I can't imagine how hard it would be for a child with differences to have to be naked on top of it all, in front of those classmates.

It amazes me that some have such a difficult time being sensitive to something so obvious, and are not actually able to comprehend that for some children, (and adults for that matter) this would be too hard.. That they are unable to put themselves in the place of others, and actually grasp what that might feel like for some. I cannot comprehend how something so basic, is so hard for anyone to grasp.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

brucebkind wrote:

I also think you are naive about your response that if kids are used to seeing kids that are fat, thin, handicapped, etc. they would be less likely to find it scary, or worthy of comment. Are you kidding me? Kids can be horrible to other children, even with their clothes on. I can't imagine how hard it would be for a child with differences to have to be naked on top of it all, in front of those classmates.

I was one of those so-affected at one time, and once the same issue was addressed in a more-supportive environment, it was resolved, with positive long-term benefits.

The problem is not the open shower; it is that educators lack both the resolve and the authority to identify, punish and remove the abusive, bullying, bottom-of-the-barrel brute.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I am astonished at the posters who would force an otherwise uncomfortable child to shower after PE in a group setting with no privacy. Abuse pure and simple. Just ignore your child's concerns... go with the flow, do what the school wants you to do. What happened to being your child's advocate until he/she is of legal age to advocate for him/herself? Yes, sometimes you have to be a parent at school and stand your ground. Surprisingly, it is not as tough as it may seem. I have found that the parents who stand there ground actually are well-respected for being involved. They aren't just putting the child on the bus only to be seen again at 3. Gone are the days that the teacher is always right. Guess what, they aren't always right.

Public school is not a privilage where we live. I pay property taxes which cover the public school system. In other words, I along with every other taxpayer in our school district pay the salary of every individual who comes into contact with my child in the school setting. I think that gives me a bit of say in what my child will and will not reasonbly do. I hold my child's teachers, counsellers, principal, etc. accountable for my child getting the most out of the public school experience. A public showering is not included.

Showers are not even a part of the picture in our PE program. With 42 minutes of PE (including dressing into a gym outfit and redressing into street clothing), there is no time for a shower to be offered. IMHO, PE is a total waste of time at the high school level but remains a State requirement.

Regardless, I would never force an uncomfortable child to shower in a group setting, NEVER. I have more respect for my child's feelings.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

"EVERY" child should have the ability to "opt out", and they should have the right to make such a personal choice themselves. The ability to opt out should "not" only be available to those with disabilities, weight issues, religious issues, or differences, but the ability to chosse should be offered to every student. I have no problem with showers in a locker room, but it should be only used by those who choose to take one because they want one.

A student should "never" be forced to comply, simply because someone at the school wants it that way.

lindac...your comment is certainly cause for concern. It is the bully mentality. quote: "By getting your child excused from showering in gym, you will insure her unpopularity, and insure other kids making fun of her, and being the object of alot of discussion".

If schools would put showers in locker rooms for those who want one, and no one is pushed one way or the other, and each does what they are comfortable doing, this would be a non issue, as it is in most schools.

It becomes an issue when someone out there tries to push and demand that only they know what is right for everyone else, and tries to bully others into doing it their way. They are incapable of seeing things from the perspective of others, and incapable of being sensitive to those around them.

And for those of you who try to insinuate or twist this into something that just the "weird, unusual, odd, over protective, overly religious, etc" objects to, is jaw dropping! Does anyone actually fall for that nonsense? There are many very bright people who are able to think for themselves, and are not about to be bullied into going with the flow, or going along, just because "you" decided their child should. They have no problem standing up for, and being an advocate for their children, and thinking for themselves.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I agree, bnicebkind -- students should be allowed to opt out, and not only on the ground of disability, etc. I am persuaded by what I have read here.

But I am still taken aback by the name calling. I didn't read anyone writing anything that I would construe as "to insinuate or twist this into something that just the 'weird, unusual, odd, over protective, overly religious, etc' objects to." Go back and read what Lynsgarden (who got slammed) actually wrote, for example. She was in favor of showers, but in all her posts she was very reasoned, not insulting or bullying, she stressed that her feelings were only her opinion, and she even underscored that she felt children should be able to opt out. I don't think she deserved attack.

By contrast, one recent poster in the anti-shower group was, in my opinion, WAY out of line.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I am reacting to the overall tone from those posters who were in favor of forced group showers. Several used phrases such as:

1. overly modest parents can leave the school, if they don't like the policy.
2. Shower phobic parents.
3. Overly protective parents.
4. Modesty-"unhealthy extreme"
5. Kids were ok with it, it was strictly "Mama" who complains.
6. Over protective parents do not help their kids, they make it worse.
7. By getting your child excused, will insure her unpopularity, and insure other kids make fun of her, and insure her being the subject of alot of conversation.
8. religious parents

They are assuming that anyone who does not "go with the flow" and simply go along with what "someone decided" was right for everyone...should be ousted from the school, or considered "overly protective", "overly modest", "overly religious", "phobic" parents, and this thinking that if they can make them feel like something is wrong with their perception of themselves as parents, these parents who object, will back down, and comply, even if that "someone" making these decisions for everyone, ignores what is in the best interest of the child, (and frankly has no interest in listening to the child) and lacks the basic ability to understand how this might affect many children. All the while feeling like they are actually doing something wonderful, and everyone should be grateful.

Re read surobbins entry Aug 17. Read down toward the 2nd half of JanetT post on Sept. 7 where she quoted from an article regarding PE showers. In the article it spoke about two schools where there was a large parental revolt about group communal showers. (i.e. that a large amount of parents felt that this was a bad idea). The schools put up shower curtains basically to appease the parents, but phased the curtains out a few months later. Why? Doesn't that sound like something that should be questioned? What, that the schools put up the curtains to appease the parents, and get them to back down, but having no intention of keeping them up, they ( betrayed the trust of the parents who thought the school had actually heard their concerns, and come up with a solution) only to find that they had no intention of "hearing their concerns, let alone respecting and honoring those concerns") which was evident by the fact that once they realized the parents wouldn't notice, went and took down all the curtains a few months later. The question is "why", and "who". Who is this person who made this decision, and why? And I (imagine) it is someone with the perspective of surrobins who actually believes it is her/his right to "force" communal showers on everyone, and in doing so, will develop the "whole child". Also believing it is the right of the school to require all students into communal showers to demystify the whole idea of nudity. She/he also stated that privacy and modesty are not absolute rights. Are you kidding me???

But you are right that Lynnsgarden was very reasoned, and I apologize to lynn.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I'm sorry that people find my ideas so troublesome, but I still am not of the view that an extreme degree of modesty is something to encourage. It's not one kid being singled out and having to strip, it's everyone having to strip and wash their smelly parts at the same time. Undoubtedly it's a little embarrassing at first, but I don't see how it's the least bit harmful.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Because it is if you are a different child in some way!
Obviously if your Miss popularity with the perfect body it's not harmful at all.But overly flat chested,heavy set,or disabled in some way,you dont want someone looking at your flaws! Poking fun at you and laughing with their friends. If you think that doesnt happen,you have another thought coming.Kids are cruel as it is.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

And the list goes on.

9. "Extreme" degree of modesty.

surrobins, if you go back an read my first post on Aug. 29 (there are two) regarding the issue of a kid not being naked in "front" of his peers, but "with" his peers, you can read my response to that issue. That technicality makes little difference to the kid who is different.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

And...WHY do you suppose schools require showers after PE?
To embarrass kids? To make them aware of how fat or skinny or flatchested they are? So some overly protective mothers can go to the school and ask for their child to be excepted from the policy ( afterall their little darlin' doesn't sweat at all!).
None of that....it's very simple....dirty kids need to get clean! And after swimming in a chlorinated pool, it's particularly necessary to shower.
Relax and tell her to get over it....because in a very short time you will have a very different problem with her wanting a bikini cut up to here and down to there and wearing it at the pool and the beach and not just in the girl's locker room.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

No one's complaining that the schools want children to shower if they're dirty and smelly --
Just about not providing any degree of privacy for the children who feel they need or want it or the parents who feel their child should have it.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Oh my, it reminded of my middle and uper-elmentary school years. I developed very early compare to other girls, had significant size breast very early and all other signs of puberty when other girls did not. I was extremelly self-concious because other girls commented on the presence of body hair and size of my bresats, especially on my tiny body. It was rather stressful. I forgot about it since it was 30 years ago, but this thread reminded it about it. No, there should not be communal showers in school. It sucked big time...


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Linda C,it is not as though the child will have flies buzzing around them from the time they are at school,until the time they can go home and shower in private. There is such a thing as deodorant.There are ways of freshening up without having to be completely naked and exposed in front of everyone.
As Sweeby said,if they made the showers more private,no one would care.In my school it was a huge open space where you had to shower right next to someone with no curtain or anything.
Forunately for us it was optional.And not used at all by anyone.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Getting naked and showering at 4th grade level? I was in the 6th grade before we had to change into PE clothes and 7th for showering.

It should be optional and nobody should be forced to get naked in front of everyone if it makes them uncomfortable. To say grin & bare it is easy to say when it's not YOU.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Kids shouldn't have to expose themselves to ANYONE in public.

Communal showers suck. I hated them when I went to school and so did most of the other kids in my class.

Now with camera phones are so prevalent, and parents having to be watchful of sex offenders, I believe this to be true more than ever.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

I was thinking about this post while having dinner with friends. A few at the table were very attractive men. Two went to a school where they required showers with no privacy. Both said it was horrible, and something they would "never" want to repeat. So it is not just those that are "different" that have a "problem" with this. They felt very strongly against any school requiring this, and said if they had a kid, they would fight against this. So I guess it is not just "mama's" who have a problem with this!

The others never had to deal with this, and could not imagine a school forcing any student to take open showers.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Nobody really likes communal showers. No kid likes getting their shots either, that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. I was embarrassed by them, my kids were embarrassed by them, but as far as I know none of us is traumatized about it!


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

This all reminds me - back before i even knew what homosexuality was about, I kept hearing 'don't take a shower, the gym teacher is watching.' - turns out I found out years later that indeed the gym teacher was lesbian, and was later fired for misconduct - before anyone freaks, i know not all gym teachers are lesbian and of course not all lesbians abuse kids, but it happened.

Glad i never took a shower - !


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

" I was embarrassed by them, my kids were embarrassed by them, but as far as I know none of us is traumatized about it! "

Comparing showering with strangers to getting a shot is completely not even on the same page at all.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

We teach our children to be modest, and if they feel uncomfortable in situations relating to their bodies then they should not be involved in that situation.

You can't say this to a child, knowing full well they are in that exact uncomfortable situation, in the shower, and then expect them to learn the skill of saying "no" in other such situations. If they don't feel comfortable taking their clothes off in front of other people, then they should not do it. Ever.

As I said before, this is not an issue in Australia, the children just go back to class after sport, swimming, and thats it. Nobody even cares about the showering process. Maybe that means we are a bunch of smelly people !

If they had a shower, after swimming, then they would all shower with bathing suits on.

P


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Bump for OP another poster experiencing the same objections for her daughter over required group showers.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

Reading this through was an education in itself. First of all, I know this is a year old. Second, why doesn't the little girl in question just wear a suit? That's what we did when we had to take showers. There is no rule that you have to be naked, and to the poster who didn't want to take a shower during her period because it might show... there are sanitary options one can use, or one can get excused from swimming if one doesn't use them, because otherwise it would go in the pool too.

Showering after gym should be required. One should shower after physical exercise. Most people don't have perfect bodies, and I don't think feeling shy is unique only to those who have less than perfect bodies.

I'm shocked by the "lesbian gym teacher" comments Posted by amyfiddler (My Page) on Mon, Nov 26, 07 at 23:47

"This all reminds me - back before i even knew what homosexuality was about, I kept hearing 'don't take a shower, the gym teacher is watching.' - turns out I found out years later that indeed the gym teacher was lesbian, and was later fired for misconduct - before anyone freaks, i know not all gym teachers are lesbian and of course not all lesbians abuse kids, but it happened. Glad i never took a shower - !"


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

This thread is from 2005! So many old, old threads being resurrected? Hopefully the questions/problems have been resolved by now.

Could the OP chime in if you're still here?????


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

somewhat similar situation involving my daughter in PE Class(Grade 9,high school level) in Fall,2008. Please look at the postings at the discussion of this latest twist to the issue. Still looking for some new ideas. Progress is occuring but NO the problem is not solved. It has just shifted locations from this issue at a school in Michigan to a girls school in Virginia. So far many of the responders to my OP have offered both support and ideas,and I know there has to be this state of confusion,as to how a 9th grade girl can flunk gym? I think we moms remember our gym days,both good and bad. In a school with a major focus on lifetime fitness,teamwork,self-responsibility,etc. believe me it can happen(but NO NOT IN PUBLIC SCHOOL where the health/fitness of youth is in significant decline) and state-required tests don't address that. The first generation of youth whose health is not expected to be longer than the parent generation. The assumption is youngsters/teens get enough fitness outside of school,but not from a health standpoint of VIGOROUS ACTIVITIES(at least 60 minutes daily for youth).Thanks ...and please continue to keep the ideas coming for Kimmy and I. Kim J.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

In Junior High I had to take a shower with the group...no swimsuits, nothing and we had to drop our towel get in and get out. The idea that showering (in the group) promotes cleanliness is way off base as I experienced it...NO one even used soap. We were too intent on getting out clothes back on. And YES the gym teacher stood at the shower and made sure everyone got "wet"...in fact she had a clipboard to make off names as we went in. So, part of our grade was whether or not we "got wet." No one learned anything about being clean...in fact one girl in school smelled terrible every day, and the required "shower" didn't help at all. It was embarrassing to every one of us, and at the worse possible time in our lives, when our bodies were changing.
We teach our children to say "NO" to anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable, yet some states still "require" showering in the nude with your classmates?!?
For an example I once worked at a high end clothing store in Calif. where instead of individual dressing rooms, they had one big dressing room. Often when I took someone back to try on clothes, they were shocked and left (without buying anything) rather than take off their clothes in a 'group setting>" These were women who could keep their underwear on and they were still uncomfortable. So why wouldn't our children also be uncomfortable?
I was and many student are too.
Someone said it didn't "hurt" them...well, how do you know? How do you measure that? If it hurts one child, and it certainly looks like a lot more than one, why force something like nudity? I think children are vulnerable and easily influenced and most are also very self conscious.
Once again it goes back to how you were raised and I think it's definitely a topic that requires individual views, but no one has the right (in my eyes) to force a child into being naked.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

A couple points we all seem to be 'missing' here...

the OP indicated it was HER not her daughter that had the problem with the shower policy...

and,

the OP indicates that within 2 weeks time her daughter tells her she does NOT want to opt out of showering because she does not want to be different...

Seems to me the daughter showed immense maturity for her age in deciding to follow rules as they were presented to her and not try to buck authority. We have to let our children be children and only fight battles they require assistance on. IMO the OP made an issue out of something that was NOT an issue for her child.

Life is not always how you want it to be, you can accept that and move on or you can spend a lifetime being negative whenever something is not the way you want it to be. How sad to think anyone truely believes the world must function as they personally see fit.


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RE: opposed to required swimming / showers in School PE

plumbly,
I think you are "missing something" - ever heard of "peer pressure" AND the danger of "giving in?"


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