HF 2750: Providing Menstrual Products in Schools
A Position Paper by MN NOW Intern Caitlin Scheresky
For those who menstruate, getting a period in school can be a terrifying experience. Every person who menstruates is familiar with the embarrassment of getting cramps and walking to the restroom to check, only to realize that they’ve begun menstruating. Upon checking a bag, they realize they don’t have any menstrual products available, and must either ask a friend or a school administrator for one or try to bundle up enough toilet paper to last through the day
Menstruation often comes with multiple side effects. Cramps and bloating are only a couple of a long list. On top of the side effects, those who menstruate must assume the burden of the cost of menstrual products like tampons and pads. A box of tampons costs around $7, and for many, a choice must be made between menstrual products and other necessities, like paying for food and bills. According to a study commissioned by Thinx and PERIOD, 1 in 5 teenagers in the United States have experienced period poverty, and this only became worse with the Covid-19 pandemic.
For those who menstruate, lacking constant and reliable access to menstrual products cannot only cause financial stress, but can cause those menstruating to wear menstrual products for longer than the recommended amount of time. Doing this puts them at risk of TSS, or Toxic Shock Syndrome, bacteria buildup that can cause infection, and other health risks. However, these are things that people must risk if they don’t have secure access to menstrual products. Not having access to menstrual products can also cause those menstruating to miss class because they do not have access to these products.
Along with the financial and medical burdens of menstruation, many people who menstruate feel self-conscious and unsanitary when menstruating. According to that same study, 71% of those interviewed said they felt insecure when menstruating, and 80% said they felt that menstruation was generally considered unsanitary. Menstruation is a healthy and normal part of life for many people. The stigma around menstruation tells those who menstruate from their first cycle on throughout adulthood that what their body is doing is gross and should be hidden away. It seems to be a general practice, at least through middle and high school, for those who menstruate to hide their menstrual products in pockets, sleeves, or any other available and inconspicuous spots until they reach a restroom. This practice is proof in each of our schools that children and teens who menstruate feel ashamed of what their bodies are doing.
Minnesota NOW supports HF 2750, a bill that would require menstrual products be provided in schools. Not only would this lessen the harmful stigma around menstruation by exposing those in schools to menstrual products, but it would also allow those menstruating to have healthier menstrual cycles by providing products for use, rather than having to use products for longer than recommended. This bill will effectively assist in normalizing menstruation as a healthy, normal process that many people go through and show that there is no shame in menstruation.