Opinion: All school bathrooms should have free menstrual products


By Sami Turner, Newspaper Editor-in-Chief

Surprise! It’s that time of the month.

Did I bring tampons to the bathroom? No, of course not. The only thing I brought was my phone so that I can reply to Snapchats while chillin’ on the toilet. So what can I do? Hope that I don’t bleed through my pants until I can return to this cold, cobwebbed bathroom next hour.

Forgetting a tampon or pad is not unique to me. Anyone who goes through a menstrual cycle has had the horrid moment of going to the bathroom, seeing that their period started and not having a solution. This stress that half of the Lawrence High community faces each month could be saved if all bathrooms had free pads and tampons.

Free menstrual products in all bathrooms isn’t a foreign concept. Many high schools and universities across the nation are implementing such policies, like our neighbors up the hill, the University of Kansas.

Society has put a big red X on the topic of menstruation. There were probably people who flipped right past this because they didn’t want to be “grossed out.” Somehow, a normal part of life has been made to seem abnormal. We’ve resorted to talking about periods in hushed tones, quickly checking our friends’ backsides to make sure they didn’t bleed through and passing along tampons to one another like anxious drug dealers. Yet, literally everyone is alive today because someone once menstruated… and then didn’t for nine months.

I want our bathrooms to be the Oprah of menstrual products.”

Putting menstrual products out in the open opens up the topic of menstruation as well. We need to begin normalizing menstruation and alleviating the anxious stigma surrounding it. Menstruation isn’t something to be ashamed of. It means you’re healthy (and not pregnant)! Free pads and tampons in all bathrooms is one major step toward destigmatizing menstruation.

These products must be made available in all bathrooms: women’s, men’s, gender neutral and staff. It’s time to move on from the archaic notion that genitals match gender. They don’t. Menstruation isn’t subjected to a certain gender, and neither should access to free hygiene products.

Not regularly changing  hygiene products while menstruating can be dangerous to people’s health. Some students have financial constraints that prevent them from buying menstrual products and may use a single product a day. Free products in the bathrooms would benefit students and faculty who can’t afford to buy them. If someone needed to, they could take extra pads and tampons from the basket for the road. It’s hard to ask for help, but having a stationary basket open to everyone breaks down the barrier of having to ask someone for a tampon or pad.

We have free menstrual products in the nurse’s office, but it’s time to expand. Let it rain tampons and pads. I want our bathrooms to be the Oprah of menstrual products. You get pads! And you get pads! Everyone gets tampons and pads!

No one should feel like they are less because of their natural menstrual cycle, nor should hygiene products be kept out of reach because of someone’s gender identity or socioeconomic class. Period.