in ,

Mom Called Out For Forcing Teen Daughter To Use Communal Shower After Gym Per School Rules

teenager seated in school locker room
Mike Brinson/Getty Images

Communal showers were once so common they became a ubiquitous part of media depictions of the American high school experience. Dorms, rec centers, swimming pools, gyms, campgrounds, military bases, and some workplaces also included them.

However, times have changed.

There has been a trend toward replacing communal showers with stalls or other more private facilities or even eliminating shower facilities altogether.

Most school mandatory shower policies have been abolished or are no longer enforced. But what if your child’s school still has communal showers and enforced showering after P.E. policy?

A mom with a child unwilling to shower at school turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Ok_Thanks_847 asked:

“AITA for making my daughter shower in PE?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I (45, female) have a 14-year-old daughter, who I’ll call Mikaela. Mikaela has barely hit puberty and is less developed than the majority of her peers, which I believe is something she is self-conscious about.”

“Last week, my husband and I received an email from Mikaela’s school saying that because it was approaching the summer, it would now be mandatory for all students to shower after PE.”

“I understand the logic. Mikaela does PE before lunch, and if she doesn’t shower, she’ll be sweaty for the rest of the day, which I don’t believe is hygienic.”

“The school requested that we pack a towel and any shower gel for the next PE lessons to ensure the students were ready. When I mentioned this to Mikaela, she said she would refuse to shower.”

“Since the showers are communal, she told me she did not want to be naked in front of everyone else and would just get dressed. I told her she couldn’t do this as the school was enforcing it, plus I felt it was healthy for her to shower.”

“Again, she asked me to email the school to say she wouldn’t be participating, but I refused to do so.”

“On Friday, despite many protests, I managed to make Mikaela go to school with her towel/shower stuff packed. I felt like I was doing the right thing.”

“However, when Mikaela got home, she’d been crying all day, saying how she’d had to get naked in front of everyone to shower, and she’d never been so embarrassed because she saw one or two of the girls laughing at her.”

“I told her how sorry I was and that teenage girls are horrible and that she’s beautiful, but for hygiene reasons, she still has to shower.”

“I suggested bringing in a swimming costume to wear to shower in, but she said that would bring even more attention to her. She begged me to email the school to not let her shower, but I said I had no good reason to, and I’m sure all of the other girls feel the same way.”

“She told me she hated me and has barely spoken to me the rest of this weekend.”

“My husband feels I should send an email as it doesn’t hurt, and Mikaela is clearly bothered, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. She will eventually get over it, and it’s important for hygiene reasons.”


The OP summed up their situation.

“I made my daughter shower in PE after the school requested this and she has said how unfair I am being.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors unanimously declared the OP was the a**hole (YTA).

“Perhaps all the other girls do feel the same, but that doesn’t help your under-developed 14-year-old daughter.”

“You, age 45, ‘don’t think it’s a big deal’. Your distressed daughter DOES. What’s actually stopping you from supporting your child in a highly stressful time in her life?”

“It’s approaching the end of the school year. Meet your child where she’s at, not where you want her to be, and email the school.”

“Or set up a meeting with the teacher(s) involved. But support your child. YTA.” ~ tinyd71

“YTA. The school is also the a**hole. I will never understand how we treat our children with such a lack of basic respect and dignity.”

“Imagine if, every week, you were forced to strip off and shower in a communal shower with no privacy, in front of your colleagues, including godawful Sheila from HR.”

“Destigmatizing and normalizing non-sexual nudity is one thing, and it’s fine to provide communal shower spaces for those who feel comfortable using them. But in my opinion schools should be required to also offer private cubicles to those who feel more comfortable that way, for whatever reason.”

“Imagine being a 14-year-old on your period, or having a stoma, or having scars, or being a SA victim, or carrying religious shame and trauma, or… or… or…”

“In this particular situation, though, it is your job to listen to your child and do everything in your power to meet her emotional needs, so the way you’re dismissing her absolutely makes YTA.” ~ LibelleFairy

“This, exactly. Why do we expect children in the United States to do things most of us would never do ourselves? YTA.”

“I can barely stand being naked in the shower with my significant other. It’s an extremely vulnerable position to be in and should never be forced on someone. OP and the school suck for this one.” ~ prettygraveling

“I cannot imagine 14-year-old me ever being comfortable showering with a whole bunch of classmates. Never, ever.”

“Pack a second set of clothes, teach your daughter how to change behind a towel, and invest in extra-strength deodorant. Showering can wait a few hours until she gets home. YTA.” ~ EdgeJG

“People managed to get clean before running water and showers were invented. She can clean up at a sink with soap and a washcloth or in a bathroom stall with body wipes.” ~ Marawal

“YTA—if there are no individual stalls, an option could have been changing her classes so she didn’t take P.E. before lunch or finding an option where she could shower solo. You could have even changed her class to be pe at the end of the day.”

“You did none of those things, and the biggest fear your daughter has came to life. Now she’s traumatized.”

“If I was your daughter, and I was stuck in a class where something was that upsetting to me, I’d simply take the F and not participate in class at all.” ~ Sea-Tea-4130

“I’m in Australia and we never did this. The majority of the time, sport was scheduled for the last 2 periods of the day, and we got to go home.”

“Even if it wasn’t, we didn’t have showers at school, had 40-degree [104° F] days, and no issues…”

“I find this whole topic weird, disgusting, and gross. I would rather sh*t in my hands and clap than shower in front of people.” ~ Reasonable_Squash_11

“I’m in the U.K. and work in education. Any school getting the kids to shower these days is going to have them be in individual stalls or require something like swimwear.”

“Without something in place to prevent communal nudity, it would be a massive safeguarding issue and schools aren’t going to risk that.” ~ PinkGinFairy

“YTA. Forcing somebody to get naked in front of other people when they don’t want to is not okay. She is telling you she’s feeling bullied and you don’t care because the school requires it.”

“If you were required to strip down and walk around outside, would you do it just because somebody required it? How hard is it to just contact the school and explain your child isn’t comfortable getting publicly naked at school? It’s not hard.” ~ AngelaMoore44

“YTA. I don’t understand why communal showers are a thing! I am assuming you are in the US?”

“I live in a country that regularly gets to 45 degrees Celsius [113° F], where I went to high school. At no point at high school for myself or even now, for my children, has anyone been forced to shower after PE.”

“We teach our kids to us decent body odour eliminating deodorant before school and after PE. There are no issues with people stinking up classrooms, even on the hottest of days.”

“Even if showers were compulsory, if my child, regardless of age or development, was not OK with showering in front of their peers, I would be 100% on board with having them exempted.”

“It is super creepy that communal, naked showering is even remotely a thing at high school, let alone considered compulsory. Seriously, this is the stuff future lawsuits for students who have suffered psychological trauma and developed PTSD as a result of these weird practices are made of.”

“This is not the hill you, as a parent, should be dying on. Support your child. YTA.” ~ Tellebelle79

“YTA. This is gearing up to be a lifelong, personality-altering trauma for your daughter. My mom would have raised hell to get rid of that stupid requirement or forced the district to construct stalls. Support your daughter.” ~ doodle_rooster

The OP hasn’t provided an update, but Redditors’ view was clear.

Don’t force your children to be naked in communal settings if they’re uncomfortable with it.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.