Though some states recently passed laws mandating schools provide feminine hygiene products like tampons and sanitary pads to students — here's looking at you, California and Illinois — plenty of school districts do not, and though some teachers and/or nurses are kind enough to keep emergency supplies on hand, the high cost of hygiene products can leave some students empty-handed when their period rolls in. To help, one school nurse took to Reddit asking readers to donate pads and tampons to their own local nurses so that all students could have access to necessary hygiene products, regardless of cost.
"I’m a school nurse in a state that doesn’t provide feminine hygiene products to its students. Everyday I have girls come in needing products," poster medicalprofessional1 wrote on Wednesday, adding, "It’s true that some are just unprepared but SO many of them have told me they feel guilty asking their parents for $5 for tampons." She noted that while the school had free lunch and meal delivery programs, they had nothing comparative for students who couldn't afford menstrual products. "I asked a girl today what she does at home and she said she uses toilet paper," she said. "I use my own money to buy these girls pads and tampons. Every school nurse I know does."
Redditors seemed appropriately outraged that public schools were not providing hygiene products to girls who could not afford them. "It's crazy that half of students can be expected to bleed more or less on schedule every month, but we find the female body is so taboo we can't even give young girls basic hygiene products?" one used posted. Another wrote, "Yes this is one of those privilege realizations that hits like a lightning bolt. 'Have you ever had to struggle to afford tampons or pads?' Oh s—t, no, never. F—k. I can’t believe some kids have to go through this."
Some Redditors urged major menstrual product brands to step up and make donations, noting it would be a pretty good PR move for them. "This is perfect marketing. It isn't lying, it isn't shoved in the consumer's face, the product is specifically fulfilling the purpose it is designed for when the consumer desires it," one user posted.
And, most importantly, many offered to help:
Menstrual products in schools has been a longstanding issue, especially since our society still seems unreasonably squeamish about periods, despite the fact that half the population gets one. When I was in school, you could get sanitary pads from the school nurse, but it was always an ordeal to ask, particularly in middle school when the whole concept of menstruation was rather new. And considering one period's worth of of tampons costs about $7 — a cost multiplied exponentially, considering women typically bleed about once a month over the course of 40 or so years — students who can't afford that cost or don't know how to communicate with their parents about their period need more than just the occasional free pad when they've forgotten their own supply at home. Not that those students should be denied, either!
The Reddit OP here is one of many teachers and nurses who've taken it upon themselves to provide their students with menstrual products, and they are true heroes, especially to the young girls who benefit from their kindness and non-judgment in a particularly volatile, scary, and occasionally humiliating time.
Period stigma starts young and lasts for a long time. I still remember my mother telling me to hide a box of Tampax so it wouldn't "embarrass" my dad, which in turn taught me my period was something to be embarrassed about. But when teachers make cute period care kits for their students, or when elected officials advocate to keep tampons in the bathroom, out for all to see, it makes it both easier for girls to get the products they need and teaches them that periods aren't so bad, after all.