Photo by Kate Gross
On Aug. 13, 2021, Governor JB Pritzker signed House Bill 156 into effect, making it mandatory for all Illinois public schools to provide free menstrual hygiene products in each bathroom available to women in grades fourth-twelfth. As students and staff of an Illinois public school, we are fortunate to have access to these products.
Surprisingly, Illinois is one of only five states mandating the free provision of these products in public schools.
In each DGN women’s and gender-neutral bathroom, free menstrual products are available. Because students here are fortunate enough to have access to these resources, they should be respected. Students should only take what they need and use them appropriately. It is immature and disrespectful to abuse or waste these resources when so many in the US lack access.
The stigma surrounding period hygiene often makes women and girls feel embarrassed and ashamed. Without access to menstrual products, students are often unable to focus on their lessons because they are preoccupied with the fear of embarrassment due to the lack of products provided to them.
Just as schools provide free toilet paper and soap to students, they should provide menstrual hygiene products, as they are a necessity for women and are essential to ensuring a comfortable and effective learning environment.
Although we experience the benefits of these products every day at DGN, mandates for menstrual products in public schools need to be applied country-wide. Feminine hygiene products are in no way a ‘luxury item’ as many state governments view them. Rather, they are a basic health necessity that everyone should have access to whenever they need.
Education is a right, and in order for women and girls to effectively participate in their education, they must be provided with resources that allow them to remain in school comfortably and without fear or judgment.