(Update: added video, student comments)
Students advocate for school access to menstrual products statewide
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Periods and periods have always been taboo to talk about. Some students at Bend Senior High School have challenged this stigma and, as a result, are improving the lives of their fellow students across the state.
Students in the Design Justice class at Bend Senior High celebrate a tangible victory for a long-supported project as free menstrual products are now in place in schools in Bend-La Pine Schools and are also installed in schools across the State under new legislation.
For more than two years, students championed the project, testifying before state lawmakers on behalf of the Menstrual Dignity Act and, after the law was passed, helping to design and edit a toolkit to implement the new directives.
Bend Senior High junior Olive Nye took the course and worked to make free menstrual products a reality.
“Personally, as a woman and menstruating, I was very excited to see what we could accomplish,” Nye told NewsChannel 21 Friday.
Last spring, students in the Design Justice class testified before lawmakers about the bill, which requires free period products to be accessible inside school bathrooms, and also took the stand. speech to the Bend-La Pine school board.
“We didn’t really talk about it, we didn’t really talk about it, and I think we were just complying and figuring out what we needed to do to get around the problem,” Nye said.
Sasha Grenier, of the Oregon Department of Education, said the designers of the toolkit contacted upper secondary students in Bend after their testimony to the House education committee in March.
“It was an integral part of the project to have the voice of the students in the toolkit, so that districts and implementing schools know how to best provide menstrual products and education in a way that emphasizes confidentiality. , the dignity and the access of the pupils ”, declared Grenier.
Maintenance and security crews at Bend-La Pine Schools worked to install dispensers filled with product in high schools and middle schools in August and in grade five wings of elementary schools by December 1.
Nye says not having accessible menstrual products takes time in the classroom, can be difficult to talk about, and is expensive.
“I just think it’s more convenient for each student and kind of saved the lives of some of our kids here,” Nye added.
Students in the class also helped revisit what type of product to store, gaining support for Bend-La Pine schools to use 100% biodegradable, all-paper, and sustainable products.
“I walked in and saw the products, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, they’re here!'” Nye recalls. “I had always emailed and written about, and then suddenly the real distributor was in front of me.”
“It even saved me a few times this year.”
Other students feel the same.
Isobel McDonald, a second year student at Bend, has been involved in the student efforts and says it is gratifying to see the distributors in place.
“It’s exciting to work on projects where we get results in real time,” she said. “Menstrual dispensers, which provide free tampons and pads, create fairness and provide a product that all students can easily access, which hasn’t always been the case. getting the distributors to the district and also to work on state law has been really rewarding. ”
Second year student Neve Gerard said: “It’s really cool that we were able to get this opportunity, and it makes it easier, especially for low income students.”
Teacher Matt Fox says this type of real-world action provides opportunities for students to develop leadership skills.
“Watching our students tackle this issue and follow it from idea to implementation has been amazing,” Fox said. “I am proud of the class and have seen them grow into leaders who care about making positive changes in the world. “
The middle and high school units are operational with products, and those in elementary schools should soon be filled with products, if not already in place. Next on the list is maintenance to install dispensers in all female bathrooms and family / gender-neutral bathrooms.
Those interested in learning more about the project can check out the Oregon Toolkit, which helps clarify the law and educates schools on how to roll it out.