Free Flow

The debate on free access to menstrual products in the Troy School District.

Middle schools throughout the Troy School District have added free menstrual products in their bathrooms due to pressure for the change from their student bodies. Boulan Park Middle Schools’ Young Activist Club gladly took on the challenge in 2021 to work with the district to make a change. 

Justine Galbraith, Boulan Park Middle School teacher and sponsor of the Young Activist Club, helped explain the middle schools’ pilot program. The goal of this program was to see if the students would use the provided feminine products. They were also monitoring to see if students would be responsible with the products and not make a mess, as this was a concern of the school’s administration. Galbraith explains, “If the pilot program was a success, it was supposed to expand to the high schools.” This program was a big success at the middle school level, and it remains unknown why it has yet to reach the high schools. 

Teachers and students at the high schools wonder how challenging it would be to implement this into their buildings, and how hard it would be for students to access these products. Galbraith expands on this using her experience at the middle school, “Each girls’ bathroom has a plastic cabinet with drawers for tampons and pads. The drawers are refilled each week.” While this tackles some worries, there is always a question of the finances. 

Galbraith also deconstructed this issue. She explained that the school orders products from Amazon whenever needed. This could become a financial struggle for the district when spread to all schools, but she believes that if equity matters in the school district, “the money is worth spending.”

Galbraith explained that access to menstrual products is an issue of equity due to how it may impact each student differently and how it may interfere with students’ schooling experiences. Galbraith explains, “Students who have to purchase menstrual products have less access, and taking the time to walk to the office to request a tampon or pad wastes instructional time.” 

Students at Troy High School are also worried by this. Sophomore Iris Daly thinks it’s unfair that middle schoolers get resources that high schoolers need as well. “As high schoolers, we also sometimes don’t know when it’s going to start, so I feel like we should always have free period products, including the people who can’t afford them,” Daly said.

There are many other negative factors involved with this subject that aren’t always considered. Lisa Danhoff, Troy High School health teacher, brings these points up, “Some parents/guardians do not want their child using certain products for a multitude of reasons. Would the products be good quality? What happens if a student has some sort of reaction to the product or doesn’t use [it] as directed? Who is liable?” Questions like these are often overlooked.

The idea of providing free menstrual products in schools throughout the Troy School District is still up in the air. Although the middle schools have continuous free access, the high schools have yet to receive the same resources. People are still fighting this in order to have bathroom equality throughout the district.