Period Equity in Schools


For a young adult, there’s arguably almost nothing worse than getting an unexpected period – especially at school. Often, there’s some embarrassment that follows. The student might have to ask to be excused from class, go talk to the school nurse for a pad or tampon, or maybe they already bled through their clothes.

Period equity has become a hot topic both in and out of schools. As a matter of fact, many states are considering or have already passed laws that require schools or public spaces to provide free access to menstrual products.

One study showed that 23 percent of students have struggled to afford period products. Many have also experienced some form of period poverty, the term that’s used to describe a lack of access to menstrual products. Some even had to wear menstruation products longer than the recommended time because they could not afford to buy more. The same study also found that 70 percent of students felt like the environment at school made them feel self-conscious about having their period.

A lack of access to menstruation products in school can also lead to learning loss. The study found that four in five menstruating students said they either missed class or knew someone who missed class because they didn’t have access to pads or tampons when they needed them.

So, what can schools do to help?

Ensuring that students have easy access to menstrual products when they need them is key. Make sure that they are in more places than just the school nurse’s office, or the building’s front office. Place them in multiple bathrooms around the building and let students know where they can be found. Not only does this provide quicker access for the student, but it’s also more discreet because they won’t have to walk across the building or campus, while bleeding, in order to get what they need.

Recently, some nurses and educators have created “menstruation stations,” or kits to keep in their offices, classroom, or bathroom.

 Here are some tips on how to put your own together:

  • Provide both pads and tampons so the student has a choice.
  • Include baby wipes for easier and more hygienic clean up.
  • For students in middle school, it may be helpful to provide some age appropriate information to help them understand what a period is if it’s their first time.
  • Let students know to whom they can go to get ibuprofen or similar pain relievers.
  • Let students know who they can reach out to if the menstruation station needs to be restocked.
  • Ensure that students of all genders have equal access to kits, supplies, and menstruation stations.

If you do create a menstruation station, it is important to let your students know that they exist in the building and that they can use them when they need them. Period equity will have a positive snowball effect. It can mean more socioeconomic equity for those who come from disadvantaged or low-income communities. It can mean that the stigma surrounding having a period, or even talking about it, will eventually go away. It can also mean that young people with periods will miss less class time because they have easier access to the products they need.

Interested in creating a menstruation station in your building, and making sure that your students have access to the hygiene products they need? Connect with your School Health representative or contact us to get started!


Additional Information


Posted in School Health