Girls Locked Out


Pile of gym bags in a classroom that should be in the locker room

The girls’ locker room doors have been locked every morning for almost two months now. This lack of access is causing many problems for the female athletes representing our school and even classroom teachers. We are asking the administration to reevaluate the action of eliminating access to the girls’ locker room in the morning.

Why was access denied in the first place?  There have been a few fights in the girls’ locker room in the past three years, some during gym class; and just recently, one in the morning before school.  Because of this most recent fight, the administration made the decision to close the locker room in the mornings due to a lack of supervision.

Many student athletes can no longer put their equipment and workout gear that is necessary for practice into the locker room each morning on the way to class. Instead, these athletes have their bags stacked in teachers’ classrooms or shoved and packed into their tiny school lockers that were made for books and supplies, not practice equipment. Meanwhile in the girls’ locker room, there are plenty of empty lockers just waiting to be used.

Yes, there have been multiple fights in the girls’ locker room in the past few years, but is it fair to close the locker room?   Why are all female students being punished when only a few were involved in the fights? Does a teacher give an entire class a detention if only a few are responsible for bad behavior?  No. Also, if there were a fight in the library, would the library be closed? If there were a fight in the auditorium, would it it be off-limits? The answer again is no. They don’t close them because they are necessities for the students. Students research for projects in the library and have program, pep rallies and talent shows in the auditorium.  Access to the girls’ locker is just as much a necessity for Redbank athletes. Redbank taxpayers paid for these facilities, so their children should have access.

During an interview with Mrs. Rupp, high school principal, she suggested that female athletes should be putting their bags in the locker rooms between classes, during gym class, or if a student driver, keep practice gear in their car. However, it does not make sense to go to the locker room between classes because the locker room is too far away from instructional classrooms. You could end up late for your next class, depending where you are coming from and going to. You’ll either have to shove your bag into your personal locker or put it in a classroom and hope the teacher doesn’t have a problem with monitoring your personal belongings while they are teaching.  Mrs. Rupp’s suggestion to access the locker room during gym class does not work either. Students have gym every other day, but not necessarily at the beginning of the day, so the access issue cannot be resolved with that suggestion. In addition, if an athlete chooses to keep her gear in her car, she would have to go to the parking lot after school and then walk the whole way back around to the front of the school and get “buzzed in”, as all outside entrances are locked. Why are students and teachers being inconvenienced when there has to be a solution to this issue?

The solution is to supervise the locker room in the morning.  When asked if there could be supervision in the mornings, Mrs. Rupp said that there would have to be a teacher willing to change her schedule.  Have the teachers been asked?   Every day, teachers monitor the cafeteria, auditorium, and lobby each day.  Why not the girls’ locker room? Morning cafeteria supervision is a paid position, so why can’t the district pay someone extra to supervise the locker rooms? If money is the issue, then offer the teacher an early out like auditorium and lobby morning duty teachers receive.   There has to be a teacher that would be willing to come in 30 minutes early to get paid extra money or to be given a early dismissal at 3:15 each day. If no teachers are interested in supervising early, what about having a teacher assigned to the duty from 8:00 – 8:15 during homeroom period? That would be enough time for athletes to drop off gear between breakfast and homeroom.  

Our athletes are representing Redbank Valley High School and our community in games, meets, and/or matches. These athletes should be getting the access to the locker rooms that they need. What is the point of having locker rooms if students are not able to use them?   Perhaps it is too late to change the policy this year, but couldn’t we make a plan to solve this issue for next year?