Every Saturday on my blog I publish a week-in-review and also post it on my FB page. The blog has categories like:
VILLAINS OF THE WEEK
OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK
MOST UNUSAL STORY OF THE WEEK
It’s not all that often I stumble across a story that could be included under all three of the above. This week I did.
Schools in Oregon will soon be required to place menstrual products in all restrooms, including boys’ restrooms.
The Menstrual Dignity Act, signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown, requires elementary, middle, and high schools to place the products in bathrooms along with instructions on how to use them.
Oregon is bragging it’s the first state in the nation with such a requirement.
From the Oregon Dept. of Education:
The Menstrual Dignity Act created the requirement for school districts to provide free menstrual products for all menstruating students in public schools in Oregon, including elementary, middle, and high school students.
Menstrual equity initiatives, such as the Menstrual Dignity Act, align with the Oregon Department of Education’s student health and educational justice efforts. Research shows that one in four teens have missed class due to a lack of access to menstrual products. Similarly, one in five students has struggled to afford menstrual products. This disproportionately impacts students of color, students experiencing disabilities, and students experiencing poverty. Importantly, this law affirms the right to menstrual dignity for transgender, intersex, nonbinary, and two spirit students by addressing the challenges that some students have managing menstruation while minimizing negative attention that could put them at risk of harm and navigating experiences of gender dysphoria during menstruation.
Research also connects gender-affirming bathroom access to supporting student safety at school. This program offers an antidote to the common narratives that say menstruation is something deserving of embarrassment and shame. Menstruation is simply a biological process for people who ovulate, though negative cultural messaging often leads young people to believe otherwise. According to a recent survey, 80% of teens feel there is a negative association with menstruation, “that they are gross or unsanitary.” These attitudes, combined with a lack of understanding around menstrual health and a lack of access to menstrual products can result in experiences that can impact a student’s mental and physical health as well as student attendance.
Q: Is it expected that every student bathroom in a school district has a dispenser?
A: Yes, menstrual products must be available in all student restrooms by the end of the 2023 school year. This 2021-2022 school year, schools must start with at leasttwo bathrooms. When school districts decide which two bathrooms to place products and dispensers in this year, they need to consider all-gender access to the products.
Tony Perkins who heads the Family Research Council offers outstanding perspective:
According to a new poll, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) is officially the least popular governor in America. And considering the law she just signed, it’s not hard to see why. Thanks to the Menstrual Dignity Act that just passed, local taxpayers are now on the hook for thousands of new tampon dispensers in boys’ bathrooms. This latest madness, which affects every public school and college in the state, is expected to cost up to $400 a machine. And school custodians aren’t the only ones upset about it.
Legislators expand(ed) a bill that was originally intended to give female students free sanitary products at school. Now, in an absurd gesture, the state has decided to “affirm the right to menstrual dignity for transgender, intersex, nonbinary, and two-spirit students” by trying to “minimize negative attention that could put them at risk of harm… during menstruation.”
In the state’s guidance, school officials are told to use gender-neutral phrases like “menstruating students” instead of “girls.” When it comes to explaining the reproductive process, teachers are instructed to tell kids that “someone with a uterus and ovaries may begin to menstruate,” instead of girls. There’s no such thing as “female hygiene products,” the toolkit argues — only “menstrual products.”
Obviously, state leaders didn’t bother to consult their counterparts in Illinois, where a similar move has literally opened the floodgates to expensive plumbing issues and mischief. “When you give a grade-school boy something that’s adhesive, they’re going to put it in places,” Illinois Republicans argued during their debate. “These products are not inexpensive, and they are going to be misused if they are placed in elementary school boys’ bathrooms,” state Rep. Avery Bourne fumed last year. Case in point: campuses like Loyola University, where janitors are dealing with all kinds of pranks, tampering, and vandalism. Sanitary pads “would end up on the mirrors, in the sinks, down the toilet, and completely thrown out,” one students’ group complained.
Here in Wisconsin during the past legislative session several state Democrats introduced a bill that would have required “each school district, operator of an independent charter school, and governing body of a private school participating in a parental choice program to provide free tampons and sanitary napkins in women’s restroom facilities in buildings owned, leased, or occupied by the school board, operator, or governing body.”
The bill went nowhere. But similar legislation is catching on in other states.