As students and staff walked into the women’s restrooms at the beginning of November, they noticed new feminine hygiene dispensers displaying the word “free.” Wondering if it was true, some turned the knob to discover that a tampon would in fact fall from the dispenser with no payment at all.
Going into effect on Jan. 1, all public school buildings for grades 6-12 are required to provide free feminine hygiene products in women’s bathrooms. The Illinois School Code was amended by adding Sections 10-20.60 and 34-18.53 and changing Section 27A-5 to make this change.
The code states that “feminine hygiene products are a healthcare necessity and not an item that can be foregone or substituted easily.” The code also asserts that “access to feminine hygiene products is a serious and ongoing need in this State.”
DGN took action early and already implemented this policy into the building, replacing the old feminine hygiene dispensers with 18 new ones that require no purchase. In the past, free products have been available to students in the nurse’s office. A student coming to the nurse’s office needs a pass and must sign in.
The updated code allows students to acquire the products they need in the nearest bathroom, saving a trip to the nurse.
“I think that this change is good, and I hope that students will continue to plan ahead and take free products only as needed,” school nurse Mary Beth Tamm said.
According to the supervisor of Building & Grounds Michelle Cannan, District 99 funded the purchase of the 18 new dispensers and will continue to fund the supply of feminine napkins and tampons.
Cannan believes that the new law will benefit students and keep more students in class. She wants to get the message out that the products are free to take as needed, but hopes the novelty of dispensing the products will wear off.