New Bill Would Put Free, Accessible Period Products in Schools—and Keep Kids in Class
By Mindy Chang
While it’s not the first thing most think about when it comes to ensuring students are in class and learning, access to free menstrual products in schools are crucial in order for students to be present, engaged, and thrive in their education. I know this because it was true for me throughout my education—and continues to be as an undergraduate student at Augsburg University.
Throughout my entire education, I have always needed to ask or be asked for menstrual products. At best, I am met with the apologetic smiles of someone without any products or finding that one person who answers the call of my time-sensitive predicament. And without “‘the one,” I am left to run into the bathroom and stare at the menstrual product machine that requires 25 cents. Whether or not I have 25 cents, the products provided are in a condition that are not sufficient. I have seen menstrual products in school bathrooms that were oversized, undersized, and non-sanitary.
Every minute a student spends looking for period products in the middle of their school day is time they are not in class learning.
This challenge isn’t just one of affordability; it’s also about accessibility. Every minute a student spends looking for period products in the middle of their school day is time they are not in class learning. And this is more likely to impact students from low-income households, those with fewer resources, and those who are uncertain or uncomfortable about what to do.
For example, to get free sanitary products at Augsburg, students must travel three to five minutes across campus and ask for them—if the center is open. What that means for low-income students, like me, is missing a considerable amount of class time. And the same is true for any student searching for products in any school setting, month after month.
If there were free and accessible menstrual products in bathrooms for all students, there would be a certainty for students to comfortably proceed with their day without any discomfort, wariness, or anxiety.
New Bill Would Provide Free, Accessible Period Products in MN Schools
HF 2750 would not only acknowledge how bodily functions, such as periods, are normal—but address the barriers that a lack of access to period products present to students of all ages. If passed, it will provide free, accessible menstrual products for students in need. Kids and young adults from low-income households, people of color, and those in situations we do not know about need this bill to be successful students. The alternative is to deny a bodily function that we are not in control of.
If you google “Free menstrual products near me,” you first see a list of retail stores, followed by a limited amount of national information regarding free products. But if you were to google “Free condoms near me,” there are locations across the metro area and all over Minnesota that provide free access and resources.
California, New York, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Virginia are changing the status quo, providing students with accessible and free menstrual products in bathrooms. Minnesota can do the same.
I hope that legislators in Minnesota will support HF 2750 and not deny students their education. Because right now, no matter how seemingly small, finding 25 cents and the metal box, relying on chance and charity, and the time spent looking for period products month after month hinders students’ learning.
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