For many female students when they get their period, this is the reality: Lacking access to a pad or a tampon, they go home.
This in turn leads to days of missed classes, lower grades and ultimately, poorer education.
It’s an experience that is familiar to one in every five girls in the US, according to a recent survey by Always, the feminine hygiene brand.
And it’s an experience that Boston Public Schools wants to eliminate. Beginning this fall, BPS will launch a pilot program to bring free menstrual supplies to schools teaching students in grades 6 through 12. A total of 77 BPS schools throughout the district will affected.
“This pilot program is about equity in our schools, and among our young people,” said Boston Mayor Martin Walsh in a statement.
The products will first be available in the school nurses’ offices. After the pilot, teachers will also give out the products, according to the press release.
“I’m grateful to Mayor Walsh for funding this important program, and making sure that girls in BPS don’t have to choose between taking care of their health, and going to class,” said Laura Perille, Interim BPS Superintendent. “Offering free, easily accessible menstrual supplies means that more students will have access to the supplies they need, and are able to stay in class and focus on their education.”
The move follows similar laws launched last year in both New York and Illinois which require schools serving grades 6 through 12 to provide free menstrual products in bathrooms. California also launched a similar law, but only for low-income middle and high schools.
Boston has been making strides to improve equity in its public schools. In 2013, the district began offering free breakfast and lunch to students regardless of income. Prior to the change, 78% of BPS students qualified for free or reduced meals due to their income status.