Not many of us have to worry about skipping school because we can not afford sanitary products. Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality for many. While sanitary products are available in some public bathrooms, they are often for a cost. One school district in BC wants to get rid of this financial burden by offering free sanitary products. This will be the first school district in BC and Canada to offer free pads and tampons to students.
A school board in the Lower Mainland voted yesterday to supply free pads and tampons in their school bathrooms. This New Westminster school board voted in favour of implementing coin-free dispensers in all girls restrooms in elementary, middle, and secondary schools.
This new program makes New Westminster the first school district in BC to fund free sanitary products to students in all of its schools.
During the Tuesday meeting, trustees and staff from New Westminster Schools, Vancouver activist Selena Tribe, and United Way representatives got together to support this initiative.
The Board of Education for New Westminster Schools also voted on Tuesday to endorse the Period Promise campaign put on by United Way of the Lower Mainland. This campaign encourages people to donate menstrual products for those less fortunate. The products are then offered free of change in facilities endorsing the Period Promise campaign.
According to Period Promise, one in seven Canadian girls have to miss school due to a lack of period protection. It is thought that this number could be even higher for young trans people who face additional challenges in accessing menstrual products.
So far, New Westminster is the first and only school district in BC breaking down this barrier by offering to fund free sanitary products. United Way is hoping that this won’t be the only school district for long and is actively encouraging other schools to get on board.
In order to make this happen, trustees will begin taking this matter province-wide. According to United Way of Lower Mainland, the school board will be negotiating with the British Columbia Schools Trustees Association (BCSTA) to ask that the Ministry of Education and Minister of Finance fund all BC school districts to purchase, install, and supply free tampon and pad dispensers in every school within the province.
This history-making move would come just ahead of International Women’s Day set to take place on March 8th.
For more information on the Period Promise, as well as how to donate, be sure to visit the Period Promise campaign website.