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Starting this year, Utah schools are stocking free period products for students

A tampon and pad dispenser.
A tampon and pad dispenser installed in Farmington High

As students came back to school this year, they were met with a change, not in the classrooms, but in the girls bathroom.

In this year's general session, bill HB 162 was passed unanimously, requiring all K-12 schools to provide period products in school bathrooms. Emily Bell McCormick, founder of the Utah Period Project, said she was thrilled with the support from the legislature.

“It is very rare for a big social issue like this to get through unanimously, in fact I'm not aware of another one in our state,” McCormick said.

In past years, students had to pay for period products in dispensers, if they were lucky enough to have one in their school at all. Students without access at school or home were left to finance their own products – a problem that Sky View student Angie Reeder and Farmington High student Victoria Duerden are well aware of.

“Some people might not be able to even be able to afford something like that and I feel like it’s something that every teenage girl needs,” Reeder said.

“I know a lot of people personally that can’t afford to purchase these products,” Duerden said.

Girls already understand the importance of these dispensers in their schools. Not only do they see how it affects those around them, girls like Farmington High student Aislinn Loutensock have personal experiences regarding periods and the necessity of access to feminine hygiene products.

“When I started it and I didn’t have a pad or tampon, most of the time I’d just wad up a bunch of toilet paper and then wait until I got home because I never wanted to ask anyone because I felt too embarrassed,” said Loutensock.

As students use these dispensers, the conversation around periods becomes less stigmatized, a problem that McCormick says stopped progress for years.

“Periods, and talking about them and dealing with something that is so incredibly basic we’ve just completely, like, blinders. We’re not looking at it,” said McCormick.

The Utah period project says when young girls get their period, their school experience is disrupted. They say access to these products is a step in making the school experience more equal in Utah.

A long time lover of NPR and radio reporting, Clayre Scott joined UPR in August of 2021 as the producer of the weekly podcast UnDisciplined. She began reporting in 2022 and now enjoys telling stories through sound and getting weekly texts from her family after hearing her on the radio. Along with her work at UPR, Clayre is attending Utah State University to get her degree in Broadcast Journalism, with time on the side to study Political Science and Art History.