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No-Cost Period Products in Schools

December 20, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Alan Moss

Executive Summary 

Lack of access to menstrual hygiene products (referred to as “period poverty”) can have serious health, educational, and social consequences for students. Common barriers to menstrual hygiene product access for students include prohibitive costs, lack of information, and stigma. Currently, 12 states have laws requiring that menstrual hygiene products be provided to students at no-cost in school bathrooms. Missouri does not currently require that public and charter schools provide no-cost menstrual (period) products to students.

Highlights 

  • In a nation-wide survey, 13% of students reported missing school, 15% reported coming to school late, and 24% reported leaving early due to lack of access to menstrual hygiene products at their school.
  • A study conducted in an urban St. Louis school district found that 48% of female students reported needing menstrual hygiene products at school but were unable to afford them.
    • Additionally, 17% of students reported missing one or more days of school due to an inadequate supply of menstrual hygiene products.
  • In 2021, eight states (AR, CA, DE, MD, NV, RI, VT, WA) passed laws requiring that all public schools (including charter schools) provide menstrual hygiene products at no-cost to students.
  • Using a $4 yearly average cost per female student grades 6-12 in Missouri, an estimated cost for providing menstrual hygiene products to students would be ~$960,000 per year. 

Limitations 

  • Estimated fiscal impacts or specific allocations to support no-cost school menstrual hygiene products are frequently not included in recently passed legislation.
  • Stigma and lack of knowledge about menstruation can be a barrier keeping students from fully participating in education even if products are provided for free.
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