How access to period products removes a barrier to education
A growing number of states are exempting menstrual products from tax. Advocates for period equity argue taxing these supplies is unfair because periods are a necessity, not a choice. And some schools and universities are now opting to provide these products free in an effort to reduce absences and ensure that low-income students have access to them. Education Week’s Kavitha Cardoza reports.
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Many school districts, universities, as well as cities and even states, are providing free period products for those who might need them or can’t afford them.
The Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island is on a mission to reduce the stigma around menstruation. He said the shame surrounding menstruation has practical implications, which is why he began looking into why so many of their students were chronically absent, missing 10 percent of the school year.
Ellen Cynar, the head of the city’s Health Communities Initiative, found it was often because they were on their period.
Providence officials installed free dispensers in a few school bathrooms. These dispensers are set with a timer at about a minute and a half to avoid any exploitation or overuse of products. And the principal said he has already noticed an improvement.
Now, in the fall of 2019, there will be two dispensers stocked with free period products in every middle and high school in the city.