Column: District 204 must place free feminine hygiene products in school bathrooms

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Column: District 204 must place free feminine hygiene products in school bathrooms

$269.80 – the price of about 1,400 young women’s sanity.

Last month, a group of female Metea Valley High School and Waubonsie Valley High School students claimed that District 204 is in knowing violation of Illinois’s Learn With Dignity Act, a newly passed piece of legislation that requires that all public and private high schools provide free feminine hygiene products in school bathrooms. According to Abbey Malbon’s Metea Media article, Metea Valley students in need of sanitary pads or tampons are unable to find either within the school’s bathrooms. Instead, students must venture to the nurse’s office, a trip which often requires a teacher’s note (a note which can be difficult or awkward to obtain) and a trek across campus. In the case of students who are unprepared, in pain, or simply caught by surprise, traveling to the nurse’s office is an unnecessary inconvenience, one which could be solved simply by the placement of hygiene products within bathrooms themselves.

Why isn’t District 204 following through on the law?

Perhaps the District’s lack of compliance is financially motivated. Yet sanitary dispensers retail for as little as almost $200 apiece. Assuming Metea has 10 female bathrooms, the total cost of installing the dispensers would amount to $2,000, an investment which would pay off for several years. As for the sanitary products themselves, tampons and pads are already provided in the nurse’s office — inventory costs would remain constant.

Of course, there’s those who oppose the measure (and they’ve made their voices loud and clear). Malbon’s article on this subject includes 17 comments, one of which reads,

All I’m hearing is that it’s too inconvenient for you to walk to the nurse and get some for FREE provided by our taxpayer dollars. And instead, you would like us to spend more time and money just to make it a little easier for you. Overall it’s a selfish notion,” the commenter said.

The commenter ignores a central tenet of the law’s original intent: to ensure that students feel secure and accommodated for, and that they don’t miss instruction due to a visit to the nurse’s office. Asking for hygiene products in a school’s restrooms isn’t inconvenient or selfish. It’s a measure designed to ensure that students on their periods can visit the bathroom and get the supplies they need, enabling them to return to class quickly and with minimal disruption.

Metea Valley — and District 204 as a whole — needs to follow the rest of the state’s lead and make the smart, responsible choice. District 203’s provision of free feminine hygiene products in every female bathroom has demonstrated their commitment to the Learn With Dignity Act. District 204’s refusal to do so within the full spirit of the law is outright inconsideration for the very students it seeks to educate and uplift.

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