Yesterday, Boston Public Schools announced that they will invest $100,000 to begin a test pilot program that will provide free menstrual products to students in the 6th to 12th grades. The menstrual supplies will be available in the offices of school nurses and selected teachers as a part of the school district’s initiative to ensure that students aren’t missing school because of limited access to tampons and pads.
In May, Brookline, Massachusetts became the first municipality in the country to provide free menstrual products in all city-owned buildings’ bathrooms. Tampons and pads are available in all bathrooms to ensure that anyone who has a period—regardless of their gender—has access to free and accessible menstrual products. The program began after the Brookline High School student, Sarah Groustra, sparked a discussion around menstrual inequity and period shame in her article in the school newspaper. However, tampons and pads are still not available in the public schools of the town.
Lack of accessibility to menstrual products and the stigma around periods are a global issue that greatly affects the education of students. There have been initiatives across the world to provide free menstrual products and normalize periods. A recent campaign was highlighted in the award-winning film “Period End of Sentence.” tells the story of women in a small village outside of Delhi, India who are leading a quiet revolution against the deeply rooted stigma surrounding menstruation.
This new policy comes after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a plan to end the sales tax on tampons. Tampons are taxed as a luxury item, which is a higher tax than other comparable medical necessities. However, this plan does not include free menstrual products in schools, which limits the accessibility of medical products for young people, causing economic hardship and, at times, causing students to miss school.
Sources: Patch 6/18/19, NPR 6/9/19, Feminist Newswire 2/26/19, The Sagamore 4/26/18