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Free period products are now available in public schools

A stack of thin pads and a tampon on a pink background.
Marco Verch Professional Photographer
/
flickr
Free tampons, pads, and other period products will be available to Utah public school students beginning this Fall.

As Utah public school students return for fall semester, they will find restrooms stocked with free menstrual supplies. HB 162, signed into law earlier this year, requires Utah K-12 public schools to provide period products free of charge to students in their female and unisex restrooms.

Emily Bell McCormick is founder and president of The Policy Project, a nonprofit working to make menstrual products accessible in Utah. She said the bill passed with unanimous support from legislators.

“When you're looking at legislation that is wide and socially based, and, you know, for women — that's probably the first time that's ever happened, so, we were lucky to get leadership on board with it right at the get go,” McCormick said.

Sara Djubek is the Senior Director of Happiness (sales) for Aunt Flow, a company that works with businesses and other organizations to provide free period products in public bathrooms. She said these products are seen as a commodity.

“So it's become an item in which people are making money, rather than providing end support like we are doing for toilet tissue, paper towels, basic sanitation procedures in bathrooms," Djubek said. "Half of the world has this function, and we need to recognize that, you know, there needs to be basic support in all spaces for this."

According to national data from the 2021 State of the Period report, nearly one in four students are unable to access menstrual products. Djubek said students who cannot afford them often miss school because of their periods.

“Attendance is the number one issue. So, if they're having their period, and they don't have access to adequate period products, they cannot go to school competently, their learning is disrupted, they cannot participate in sporting activities,” Djubek said.

As of July 2022, 17 states and Washington D.C. have passed legislation requiring schools to provide free period products for students.

Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.