Monomoy Regional School District to provide free menstrual products to support students
August 30, 2022 -- Monomoy Regional School District has enacted a new program to offer free menstrual products to students at Monomoy Regional High School and Monomoy Regional Middle School. The project was initiated by students in the MRHS Young Women’s Club under the guidance of the group’s advisor, teacher Jazmyn St. John. The students had observed that the cost and availability of menstrual products were a barrier to many of their peers, and created a proposal to provide those items free in school. Representatives from the club shared input that the lack of availability of these products creates stress and disruption to students’ education.
"I think that none of us really knew how much of an impact we were making by taking this initiative, we were just tired of feeling ashamed for asking our teachers for the products that we needed,” said MRHS sophomore Kassandra Cruz. “But as time went on we saw how much stigma there was concerning menstrual products and decided that we would try to change that and we started by making sure that menstrual products were accessible to not only kids in the high school but the middle school as well."
The students presented their proposal to the Monomoy Regional School Committee in April 2022. The school committee responded favorably and allocated funding for the project.
“This is such a wonderful example of what happens when students are a part of the conversation,” noted teacher Jazmyn St. John. “These young ladies saw a problem that was not being addressed, did their research into how it impacts their fellow classmates and possible solutions, and brought all of that information to school administration. I couldn’t be more proud with the advocacy work our students are doing across the board.”
The proposal by the students recommended that dispensers of free menstrual products be installed in bathrooms in Monomoy’s high school and middle school. While menstrual products have been available in the school nurse's office, the short amount of passing time between classes and the distance to the nursing office made that option challenging for students to access. By installing dispensers in bathrooms throughout the buildings, students will have fast, easy, and private access to these products.
The dispensers were installed in bathrooms in Monomoy Regional High School and Monomoy Regional Middle school over the summer in preparation for the return of students this fall. They will provide free tampons and pads to all who need them.
“I am proud of our students for taking the initiative to propose this solution to address the inequity they observed. The advocacy and concern for others they demonstrate are qualities we hope to instill in all of our students,” said Monomoy Superintendent Dr. Scott Carpenter. “It’s a great example of student voice in action.”
Many school districts nationwide are acknowledging issues related to period equity, including the affordability, accessibility and safety of menstrual products, and taking steps to increase access. There is also legislation pending in the Massachusetts legislature that would increase access to free menstrual products in public schools.