Opinion | ETHS needs to increase access to period products

Anyone with a uterus has most likely experienced the struggle of not having access to period products in school. Products like pads and tampons are a necessity for half the population. Without having these products readily available within school, unfortunate situations can arise. 

It happened to me last year and again just today—I got my period during class. Quickly, I stood up from my seat and headed toward the closest bathroom. But, when I got there, the dispenser was completely empty.  I walked to a bathroom far from my class, regretting not bringing anything myself. In the next bathroom, I was able to access a low-quality tampon composed of essentially cardboard and plastic. 

This is not a unique experience. Many people in ETHS have experienced similar situations. 

“I was in gym, and out of nowhere, I got my period, and I was running to different bathrooms across the school trying to find something,” says senior Amira Grace. “Number one, it made me late, so I have that on my record. And number two, I was just stressed out and I already had homework because all students do, and then this kind of put a damper on my day.”

Situations like this not only ruin people’s days, but they also interrupt instructional learning. 

“I think mostly it’s just about not letting your period get in the way of your education, and if you’re spending all day trying to hunt down period products, you’re really wasting a lot of time that you could be having in class and engaging in class, and that’s just a huge barrier for a lot of people,” explains senior Natalie Svolos. “We have the tampons, but they’re bad. No one wants to use those.” 

Not being able to access period products when you need them causes very embarrassing situations that no one should have to go through in their place of learning. If you are already embarrassed, it’s worse when that embarrassment disrupts your learning. 

It’s not only students who believe pads and tampons should be available in school—many staff members believe this as well. 

“I know a lot of teachers who personally keep those products in their classrooms for students, and the problem with that is that it forces students to have to have that interaction with the teacher in the middle of class,” elaborates German teacher Rachel Kern. “It could potentially be embarrassing for the student, or it could potentially cause the student not to want to ask for something that they need. So, I think just having them widely available in the bathrooms for anybody, for no cost, would be the best approach.”  

The school would have many benefits from giving us products in its bathrooms, but, most importantly, the school would be a more comfortable place for everyone. 

One reason this would make the school a better environment is that there would be a decrease in student stress.

“Students aren’t as stressed when they have that certain resource,” notes Grace. “I think it just makes ETHS a more comfortable space because people know that they have these resources available when they need them.”   

ETHS would be a more comfortable environment and students would feel more welcome in the school if there were period products in all of the bathrooms—not just the female ones.

“There also needs to be period products in all the bathrooms because more people than just women have periods,” adds Svolos.

Something important that the school and all of us should remember is that not all students who get their periods are women. Therefore, there should be period products in the women’s bathrooms, all-gender bathrooms, and men’s bathrooms.            

ETHS would solve multiple problems and have multiple benefits from putting period products in our bathrooms, but how can we make this happen? How can we achieve said benefits?        

According to Grace, this was brought up in the Student Union last year, but it was never followed up on. But, enough people care enough about this topic and want to do something about it, it can be brought up again and we could get products in bathrooms.          

“If we were to write a proposal to the school, if there was a group of people who are really interested and really passionate about this project, if there’s a group of people who want to join the Student Union, and specifically work on this, this can definitely be something that’s fixed throughout the year,” Grace explains.      

Ultimately, I think we should all do our part to make this happen, including those of us who do not have uteruses and have no need for period products. 

“If we can give everyone toilet paper, then why can’t we give everyone tampons?” Svolos concludes.