This Matters, PERIOD.

Bend students helped pass the Menstrual Dignity Act earlier this year, requiring all public schools in Oregon to provide free pads and tampons in at least two restrooms. Additionally expanding it to all restrooms by July 1, 2022. Summit High School is in the midst of making these changes.

This+Matters%2C+PERIOD.

Danielle Evans, Staff Writer

A girl is stranded in a bathroom stall. She has used her last period product in her bag. With a heavy flow of blood rushing down her leg, no one is there to help. The bell rang 20 minutes ago, and she was already  far too late to class. Her anxiety builds with the idea of walking to the nurses for help. The girl finally resorts to using a makeshift pad out of toilet paper. This is one of many realities for women during their period at school.

Millions of girls around the country are struggling with getting ahold of feminine products at school everyday. Summit and all public schools should be a comfortable place that has all of a student’s basic needs. Yet, when it comes to menstrual products, schools all over Oregon are lacking these necessary items. 

When you walk into a public school bathroom in Oregon, there is toilet paper, hand soap, and paper towels that are available and provided to students, as these are basic needs. But so are tampons, pads, and other feminine hygiene products. Until recently, Summit was the only school in Bend that did not provide dispensers. 

Bend High and Mountain View dispensers came with a 25 cent fee. For some students, the cost of products can be unreasonably high. To some, the added cost might not seem significant, but for others that is money that could buy them a meal. Paired with this, the dispensers are often empty, creating a “what do I do now?” situation. 

“There’ve been times where I had to leave class for twenty minutes because I had just used my last product in my bag and I had to text everyone I know to see if they had anything, and if everyone’s in class, no one can respond,” said sophomore Reese Campbell. 

Campbell is just one out of many students who have struggled. Many women and young girls experience cravings, mood swings, headaches, nausea, and painful cramps during their period. Yet, women are expected to ignore these feelings and most often pain, and go to school. Functioning at school whilst battling all these things becomes more challenging when schools don’t provide menstrual products.

“I had asked probably about 10 different random girls before I was able to find someone with a tampon,” said sophomore Mallory Rosen.

Rosen expresses that this isn’t just a problem with an individual student, it’s an issue that everyone has faced at some point in their lives inside and outside of school. 

Michael McDonald, Summit’s principle, has recognized this as an issue around Summit’s campus and has been forced to take part in the Menstrual Dignity Act. The Menstrual dignity act requires that all public institutions of education must provide free pads and tampons in school bathrooms starting this fall of 2021. 

“This subject needs to become a part of our regular communication with students who need the products,” McDonald said.

He explains that including feminine hygiene products in Summit High school is just a small step to evolving to an improved atmosphere. Yet, as of late October, there are only three bathrooms with these dispensers, out of the seven female bathrooms total in Summit. The dispensers are mostly placed in the less dense parts of the school, like the locker rooms and near the gym. These locations make it difficult to access products and get to class on time. 

A teacher at Bend High School Matt Fox, helped create the Menstrual Dignity Act for Oregon. He started by increasing access to menstrual products by providing them in his very own classroom for his students. Originally, it wasn’t mentioned or even discussed in the school budget or included in meetings. Fox’s next step was taking this idea to the Bend-Lapine school district office. 

“We brought it to the district first, they listened and thought it was a good idea, though their efforts to make it actually happen haven’t been successful,” Fox said.

Fox and a couple of passionate students reached out to Jason Kropf, State Representative, who had information about a legislation that was in process. This required at least two feminine product dispensers in Oregon school bathrooms free of cost, starting in the fall of 2021. 

“It all comes down to the people who recognize an issue and decide to speak up. A lot of times when “Acts” like the Menstrual Dignity Act pass, it’s because a lot of people who are dedicated to a cause have an impact on making a change,” Fox said, “No matter if you are a student, teacher, staff member, or parent you all have a voice.”

In schools especially, access to Menstrual Products is a public health issue that can be taboo to talk about. With the expansion of all public school bathrooms providing feminine hygiene products, students can feel a sense of relief when they are in need. Finally, these products are simply just for students and their period, all for free, as they should be.