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No-Cost Period Products in Schools: Implementation

April 26, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Jill Barnas and Dr. Alan Moss

Executive Summary

Period poverty is the lack of access or inability to afford essential sanitary menstrual hygiene products (e.g., pads, tampons, reusable menstrual cups). It can have serious health, employment/educational, and social consequences. While lack of access to menstrual hygiene products can affect menstruating individuals at any age, this is a particular problem for menstruating students who may have to miss school due to menstruation. Introduced in the 2022 Missouri legislative session, HB 1842, HB 1843, and HB 2591 would require all public and charter schools with students grades six through twelve to provide menstrual hygiene products in school bathrooms. The K-12 education appropriations bill for the 2022-23 school year perfected by the House, HB 3002, includes a $1 million appropriation to provide no-cost menstrual hygiene products to public schools.

Highlights

  • While the average age to begin menstruation is 12 years old (~6th grade), 10% of U.S. female students are already menstruating by 11 years of age (~5th grade).
  • Supplying no-cost menstrual hygiene products in schools could help those in need get through that school day. However, they may not have access to the necessary products outside the school environment.
    • School-day menstrual management may also include the provision of clean clothes and assistance with menstrual pain.
  • The most common place to store menstrual hygiene products at schools is within the nurse’s office.
  • Individual school districts and charter schools set their own policy and procedures for purchasing general school supplies, including menstrual hygiene products. 
  • Thirteen states and D.C. (including Arkansas and Illinois) have laws mandating that menstrual hygiene products be provided to students in grades 6 through 12. 

Limitations

  • There is no research consensus as to what is the best practice for product placement. 
  • There are many different unknown factors that make cost estimates for providing no-cost menstrual hygiene products difficult. 
    • Factors include potential program utilization, the number of products needed per menstruating student, and the costs of products.
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