RECAP: Parkdale takes action against locked bathrooms with school-wide protest


Francis King Ching

Students gathered in the multipurpose room after what started as a silent protest quickly became vocal.

On January 14,  a TikTok video with over 400k views took the Parkdale student body by storm. The video shows a person, likely a Parkdale student, seemingly walking around the Parkdale halls trying to open the bathroom doors but finding them all to be locked.  The only exception to this “bathroom lockdown” seems to be the two restrooms in the main lobby. However, these bathrooms can’t be locked and have had their doors removed entirely.

Following the TikTok, an Instagram account reposted the video along with a multitude of other posts. One post in particular was posted on Jan 17, announcing to students that a silent protest would be being held in the main lobby after the first period the following day.

After the dismissal bell from first period rang, many students eagerly made their ways down to the main lobby. The halls were completely packed with students and administrators. Shortly thereafter, administrators gave students six minutes to get back to class. 

Dr. Graves assured students that their concerns were heard through their SGA officers and representatives.

Prior to the protest taking place, principal Dr. Tasha Graves sent out an email to all students asking them to avoid the protest with the reminder of testing taking place for the second quarter, emphasizing that protesting would affect student learning. 

Hundreds of students, however, chose to show up to the protest anyway. What was supposed to be a silent protest quickly turned into quite the opposite. 

When the protest initially started, some students began suspect that it was a “trap,” and many started walking back to class instead of going to the protest, worrying about whether they’d be suspended or not. 

“… So I’m like walking away and like supposedly they’re telling people to go to the cafeteria, and most people think it’s a trap,” said a Parkdale junior who wishes to remain anonymous. “[…] I’m scared to speak out, and I should never be scared to speak out in school.”

Many students did direct their attention to the cafeteria where everyone was then seated and given an opportunity to voice their distress about the bathrooms being locked and the uniform policies enforced at the school.

In attendance was not only hundreds of students but also English 12/SGA Advisor Mr. Neville Adams, Dr. Graves, and other administrators.   After hearing from students, Dr.Graves then took to the stage to address students’ concerns and the protest.

“Good morning, Parkdale,” Dr. Graves started. “Students, I just want to reiterate [what] Mr. Adams and SGA said. [SGA is] your appointed school leaders. If you have your concern, please voice your concerns with SGA.”  She went on to explain that SGA is meant to represent the student body and that they are the ones to share the concerns of students to administrators. 

“We had a closed meeting yesterday [January 17]  and we are beginning to work on the list of things that were shared by your SGA,” Dr. Graves continued. “Again, as stated, continue to support your SGA. They are the ones that make sure your voice is heard at Parkdale High School.” 

Upon conclusion, many were not satisfied with the response from those in charge.  However, although so do not feel administration really heard what they were saying, others do agree that something should be done about the rule-breaking, and at times law-breaking, activity that occurs in the bathroom.

The two bathrooms in the main lobby, which at one point were the only bathrooms unlocked, quickly became locked Visitors-Only restrooms. (Francis King Ching)

“I mostly agreed with all the students there,” said sophomore Eric Miles, who was present for the protest.  “But the thing is that some of the students [who] say open the bathrooms are the same ones that be vaping in there.”  Vaping, along with loitering, skipping class and vandalism, are some of the reasons why administration locked the bathrooms in the first place. 

Afterwards, students were sent back to class and the bathroom doors in the main lobby were shortly hinged back on.  Additionally, multiple restrooms began opening up again around the school.

However, upon arrival to school the next day, it was revealed that the bathrooms in the main lobby were locked and are now only permissible for visitor access.

Since the protest, the rest of the bathrooms around the school are scheduled and locked at different times. There is no clear indication or schedule of when, but no bathroom is ever open for the entire school day. 

Contributions to this story and the quotes gathered come from journalism student Jorge Villa Mendez and Chief Copy Editor Aissata Kallo.