- Many female students would rather miss class than go to school while menstruating if they lack access to feminine hygiene products, according to the State of the Period study sponsored by Thinx and Period. Poverty plays a large role in access to obtaining these products, but there is also cultural stigma around menstruation that causes embarrassment and feelings of shame for some girls.
- The study conducted by Harris Insights & Analytics of 1,000 teens ages 13 to 19 found 20% — one in five — of teenage girls surveyed can’t afford to purchase menstrual hygiene products. It also states that two-thirds of respondents feel stress because they don’t have access to tampons and pads, 61% have worn tampons more than four hours, 25% missed class because they didn’t have access to tampons or pads, and 83% think lack of access "is not talked about enough."
- The study centers on the need for more education on this topic, as 76% of students feel they know more about the biology of frogs than they do about the biology of the female body, and it also found many students feel ashamed when they are menstruating.
Boston public schools tackled this issue by giving students access to free products in an attempt to create “menstrual equity.” The products were made available through a $100,000 pilot program that allows school nurses to disperse them in 77 Boston public schools for grades 6 through 12. Though it’s a step in the right direction, advocates say the supplies should be as readily available in the bathrooms as toilet paper.
New York City began offering free menstrual products in school bathrooms in 2016 and New York state started distributing products in 2018. Illinois and California mandate that these products are made available in schools with high numbers of low-income students.
New Hampshire teen Caroline Dillon spearheaded a state bill that would require public schools to provide free feminine products in an effort to end “period poverty.” The teen knows of fellow female students who would rather stay home from school than go to school without pads or tampons. She said girls also resort to re-using the products or using items like socks or newspapers. The bill, SB 142, was passed in law in July.