New law requires schools to provide free feminine hygiene products
Starting Jan. 9, there will be a sign in the girls’ bathrooms directing students to where free feminine hygiene products can be located within the school.
The signs are a result of the new state law that requires these products to be provided in the bathrooms to female students in 6th through 12th grade. The law goes into effect Jan. 1.
Principal Julie Nowak said, “Lawmakers determined that access to feminine hygiene products is a serious need for Illinois students. As we see an increase in more students who do not have access to these needs at home, we recognize this as a legitimate concern for some students.”
However, the administration was concerned with how best to provide these products to the students.
Nowak said, “While we absolutely want to supply anyone in need with feminine hygiene products free of charge, we’ve had issues with products being taken in mass and people making a mess of the products. We are trying to navigate the best way to be cost effective while also meeting our students’ need in a comfortable manner.”
Ultimately, the administration decided that there would be a sign posted in the girls’ bathroom indicating where products could be located. They will be available in the nurse’s office and the athletic trainer’s office, and possibly in the girls’ locker room.
The cost of providing the products to students was not a factor in the decision.
Nowak said, “The cost is not significant. It is less than $500 per year.”
Both Nowak and School Nurse Dawna Smeltzer feel this law will be beneficial to students.
Smeltzer said, “The benefit is that students who are in need of feminine products will have them free of charge.”
Most female students agree that having access to free feminine hygiene products is beneficial.
Leah Pope, ‘18, said, “I think that’s great. Girls whose periods catch them by surprise at school suffer from embarrassment if they don’t have those products on them, and they have to go around begging others for them. Some families may also struggle to afford those products because they are unfairly expensive.”
Isabella Griesmaier, ‘19, said, ““I think that it’s an incredibly progressive step forward in recognition for the basic needs of not only females students, but students in general. It is because of these accommodations that public education is becoming more aware and more inclusive.”
However, the free feminine hygiene products are not to be used in place of those at home.
Nowak said, “It is our expectation that students will continue to be responsible and bring their own feminine hygiene products to school. These products are available at school in case a student does not have access to feminine hygiene products, runs out, or forgets them.”
Click to read Opinion editor Sarah Yamaguchi’s take on the new law.