Vague social media guidelines lead to unnecessary removal of graphic


PERIOD Club’s graphic advertising their next meeting. Courtesy of Karyme Padilla

Natalia Julio & Atiyana Sowell, Photography & Opinion Editor

The PERIOD club was asked to remove a graphic promoting a club meeting although it did not break any social media guidelines.

With all the clubs that exist at West Covina High School, some of them fill education gaps to provide students with vital information, as well as break stigmas around certain subject matter. Since health classes were removed from the list of provided courses offered, many students do not receive proper education on sex, body development, and other natural bodily functions. Clubs have since popped up to replace that lack of information, one of them PERIOD Club, who seeks to educate students on menstrual cycles.

PERIOD Club President Karyme Padilla summarizes PERIOD’s purpose as to inform those interested about period poverty as well as to “combat period poverty and the stigma around periods. To put it simply, period poverty is the lack of access to period products due to stigma or financial constraints.”  

The club hosts meetings every other Tuesday at lunch to educate students, and they hope to continue doing so. Recently, due to WCHS administration and vague social media guidelines, PERIOD club hit a roadblock in what they’re allowed to post, and frankly, it’s worrying for the future of club content.

In late October, PERIOD posted a graphic on their Instagram account advertising their next meeting, and the informational text was edited over a drawing of a menstrual pad stained with water colors that represented blood. According to PERIOD club advisor, Ms. Andrea Franco, the graphic was posted via Instagram story for “less than a full 24 hours before a member of administration contacted PERIOD club” and directed them to remove their graphic. Franco made it clear that the administrator, whom she wished not to specify, deemed the graphic “too much” to be posted on a school platform. Sanitary products – correction – a watercolor graphic of a sanitary product is now being deemed as “too much”.    

“Ms. Franco, our advisor, has supported us throughout it all, and was rightfully angered by it as well,” Padilla stated. 

This, however, is simply not how club guidelines should be managed. Administration should not personally deem a post “too much” and ask for it to be removed, especially when it does not violate guidelines and/or standards. There are two sets of guidelines students are expected to follow, one found in Club Connect, a Google Document students have access to and the other on WCUSD website. Club Connect’s guidelines state the following:

  • Use good judgment. Use appropriate language and tone. 
  • Keep it professional. Manage it like a business account, not a personal account.
  • Keep posts related to your organization and our school. It is not the place for personal opinions or agendas.
  • Use appropriate photos – do not post photos of students/staff/parents that could be inappropriate or embarrassing.
  • Select appropriate hashtags to use. Examples:  #WCHSCLUBS #PROUDTOBEWC #WCHSBULLDOGFAMILY #WCthePlacetoBe

WCUSD district guidelines state that inappropriate posts include the following: 

  • Content that is obscene, libelous, or so incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises, violation of school rules, or substantial disruption of the school’s orderly operation.
  • Posts that lack relation to the site’s purpose or violation of district policies, regulations or content guidelines, such as promoting a business or campaigning.
  • By commenting or posting on social media, your name and content becomes public. Please do not include personal information such as student identification numbers, Social Security numbers, personal addresses or phone numbers, or driver’s license numbers.

According to Oxford Languages, the definition of obscene is something “offensive or disgusting by accepted standards of morality and decency.” To call periods “offensive or disgusting” shows a hateful attitude and uninformed opinion on female bodies, and is overall inaccurate to the graphic posted.

The same is true for “libelous” which, according to the same source, is in reference to something defamatory or vilifying, and not what PERIOD club attempted to do. 

The only possible applicable rule being broken is “the disruption of the school’s orderly operation,” but if a school’s “orderly operation” is disrupted by students educating others about menstrual cycles, then the orderly operation has issues within itself.

PERIOD Club posted a survey asking for student feedback on the graphic. Names were not required to participate in this survey. Below were some responses. 

“Periods tend to be shunned away and something to talk quietly about even more than half the world gets periods. Seeing something like that can make people uncomfortable as they always thought periods are not something to openly talk about.”

While periods can make others uncomfortable, their point raises the question on whether or not being uncomfortable is a bad thing, and whether or not clubs have a responsibility to make everyone feel comfortable. Destigmatizing any issue will be uncomfortable for some, but comfort should not be placed over an issue’s importance.

“I’m sure there are many staff and district members who live a more “old-fashion” lifestyle and would prefer a graphic that was less accurately bothersome.”

Apparently, club guidelines in 2021 have an implied restriction on what they are allowed to post because people outside the target student audience may not approve. 

The argument of “old fashioned” people has been brought up numerous times when dealing with school issues, such as the content students learn, education on social issues, and other various subjects, but the reality is that students are not growing up in an old-fashioned way. Times change, and students’ education and growth should not be stunted because older people find it “bothersome.”

In reference to females’ menstrual periods, a similar argument has been made about children possibly seeing the graphic and not “being ready to understand what they’re seeing.” The target audience of WCHS club pages are the school’s students, most of which are old enough to experience periods. Clubs are not responsible for small children and the content they consume. This responsibility is on the parents if they don’t want their children to see anything they believe to be “too much.”

“Cuz it’s blood coming out of your vaginal area and it makes me feel weird seeing it.” 

Understanding why this responder may have negative feelings against a natural bodily function may stem from the lack of normalization of menstrual periods society allows within itself. This is why clubs like PERIOD need to exist, but they won’t continue if they can’t even advertise their next meeting.

If PERIOD didn’t break any social media guidelines and standards, does that mean administrators are allowed to ask clubs to remove content they personally deem “too much”? 

It is worrying to wonder which club or social media page will be censored next, since it has been made clear that club guidelines aren’t the only thing clubs have to worry about now.

Principal D’Errico could not be reached for further information or statements regarding this matter.