The life of an average student, regardless of age or situation, is just plain stressful. And a student worrying about menstruation, on top of all their other concerns and responsibilities, is more likely to struggle with school and mental health.
Our education environments should be safe spaces where students are comfortable learning and growing-providing the proper hygienic products in accessible locations helps promote that development. Plus, it removes stigmas associated with menstruation, helping boost confidence, self-image, and respect throughout the student population.
Providing accessible feminine products in school is an ethical thing to do-even still, some states go the extra mile and legally require tampon vending machines in all academic institutions. As of 2022, Delaware, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, Nevada, California, and the District of Columbia all have legislation relating to feminine product access in schools.
Many of these laws mandate that students in grades 6-12 must have access to free tampons and other menstrual items in every bathroom. It's important that your facility fully understand state laws when setting up tampon dispensers. For instance, Oregon's Menstrual Dignity Act includes students of all genders from grades K-12.
Ultimately, providing your students with free access to feminine products is the fair thing to do. Whether you've experienced the ups and downs of menstruation or not, all students deserve an environment that's beneficial to personal growth, development, and mental care.
Furthermore, these programs should be expanded to all bathrooms, as many students who experience menstruation don't identify as female. And for those who don't require feminine products, the presence of these dispensers throughout restrooms helps instill respect for their peers who do use them and normalizes menstruation.