If you saw Dwayne Peterson from across the kickball field, you’d think he was your typical, gruff, middle school gym teacher—and in many ways, he is. But he is also a hero and a pioneer in the world of menarche support. Peterson is the first male gym teacher in the United States to make the bold statement that he is, in his words, “cool with periods.”
“If you got ‘em, you got ‘em,” says Peterson. “You do what you need to do to uh, take care of that. And that’s all I’ll say about that. Period.”
Female menstruation is a topic that’s usually absent from school discourse; a topic better reserved for within the safe walls of a women’s restroom or in the cool nurse’s office. Why? Because periods are gross. It’s a grotesque topic that had not been safe for men’s ears—until now.
When Coach Peterson began his tenure at Havenhurst, he admits he was a bit uncomfortable with the feminine hygiene of his female students. He said that his young female students would approach him daily with vague mentions of visits from their “aunt”, “cramps” and the ultra-vague “girl stuff” eagerly awaiting dismissals to the nurse. “I’ll admit, I let a lot of the early ones just go without a word – just kind of a, ‘Honey, that’s a private problem that you deal with in private’ kind of way–which apparently, is what these girls are used to. That didn’t seem fair—so I spoke to my wife and we came up with this motto.”
He points one stubby finger to the concrete above his head and in bold red paint it reads: “Day One or Two: You do you. Beyond Day Three: You stay with me”.
“It ah…It helps us avoid a lot of conversations. It’s good.”
Monica Wallace, a junior, reminisced about her first menstruation-related encounter with Peterson: “I went to gym class one Tuesday and I told Coach P that I couldn’t do it… I had… lady problems.” Monica continued, “Coach threw up in his mouth and little bit but he swallowed it down and told me I was free to go. I thought that was so cool. Our last male gym teacher would just barf out into the wastebasket next to his desk.”
Travis Sinclaire, a second-year sophomore, didn’t hesitate to express his opinion, saying, “Coach Peterson is sexist! Boys are being PENAL-ized—literally! It’s not MY fault I wasn’t born with a monthly excuse to be lazy.”
“I told Travis before and I’ll tell him again,” says Coach Peterson, “Women are athletes in motherhood before anything else… they take that egg to the hole every single month until they make it to the championships also known as pregnancy. Now, if Travis can prove to me that he can push a human baby out of his pickle then I will give him the option of a pass in class once a month. Fair is fair.”
Here’s to you, Coach Peterson. You’re our Menstrual Ally of the Month!