Students in elementary school to university should have free access to feminine hygiene products provided by their health center.
Although this seems like common knowledge, there is a lack of consistency nationwide within school systems to deliver upon this need for various reasons — including biased beliefs, age misrepresentation or privileged education.
The main reason schools, both public and private, should offer sanitary products is to provide equal education to low-income students. Many students have had to miss school due to their menstrual cycle if they cannot afford a hygiene product or if the school does not give them for free.
By enabling students to have access to necessary products such as pads or tampons, education becomes more inclusive.
Numerous schools do provide feminine hygiene products in their health center, but in many cases elementary schools are excluded from this basic right.
There is the misconception that people start their menstrual cycle in middle school. In fact, people who menstruate tend to start their period between the ages of 10 and 15. For some students, they start as early as 8-years-old.
If a young student starts their cycle in elementary school, they often find that their health center does not carry feminine products, leaving them vulnerable to a health risk or just pure embarrassment.
To prevent such a scenario, schools only need to install and maintain dispensers in the bathrooms, which in addition lessens the embarrassment of having to ask for a product publicly to whomever happens to be in the nurse’s office.
Unfortunately, there are some schools that knowingly choose to limit free access to feminine hygiene products to students with the excuse that it is against their beliefs or that students will “abuse the privilege.”
Under no circumstance should religious or personal beliefs preside over the bettering of students’ health and opportunity within the U.S. education system. Situations where schools do not acknowledge the undersupply of feminine hygiene products further augments gender discrimination.
There have been nationwide efforts, on a state-by-state basis, which is effective progress. Nonetheless, now there needs to be more proactive legislation that provides support to all girls and women across the country within the school system.
There should be a federal law that requires schools from elementary level to university, whether they are a private or public school, to provide free feminine hygiene products to any student who needs these products, regardless of any preexisting prejudice.