Free Sanitary Products in Tennessee Schools

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To whom it should concern,
There is an important issue that needs to be brought to your attention. Our students grades 6-12 need to be provided with free sanitary products in all or most bathrooms. These are necessary supplies that will contribute to the concentration, participation and overall well-being of our students. If supplied in our schools, it would decrease embarrassment and anxiety for those who forget, cannot afford or simply do not have access to these supplies for various reasons.

This practice has started in a few other school districts and will spread in time and we can help lead the way. The programs have been viewed favorably by students who have it at their schools. They say how easy and less nerve-wracking it is to have these dispensers in the bathrooms. One unnamed student has said “You feel more confident and not as nervous. You just grab it whenever you need it.” This would cause less disruptions in a student’s learning day at school and promote a healthier, supportive environment for students.

The President of the National Organization for Women, Terry O’Neill, says “Feminine hygiene products are not a luxury. They're as essential as toilet paper, just ask anyone who has ever struggled to obtain or afford them. Students' participation in school should not be hindered by insufficient access to this basic necessity.”

New York City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland says “This is a big stress in a lot of [the students'] lives. But, when students have access to menstrual products in bathroom, they feel relieved and no longer lose valuable class time. [They] have everything they need to have a successful day.”

In some schools, students who need sanitary supplies can go to the nurse. In others, that is not always the case. Even if offered, these supplies are not always readily available, in enough supply to provide for all those in need or as easily and discreetly accessible as they should be. Advocates say having to jump through hoops for menstrual care can be traumatizing, especially for the 21 percent of school-age children living in poverty. Students who can't access pads or tampons often can't concentrate in class, risk bleeding through their underwear, and are forced to miss class or school altogether, falling behind on lessons and grades. But non-menstruating peers, advocates say, already have everything they need in a school bathroom — toilet paper and hand soap.

Providing free tampons and pads is equivalent to stocking toilet paper and hand soap. Both of which are federally regulated by US Occupational Safety & Health Administration. No one is expected to walk around in public with a toilet paper roll and neither should our students. This is needed to bring dignity and respect back to young girls in our schools.

So help me stand up for our students and provide them with the necessary tools to focus on school, free from anxiety and promote a healthier, more supportive environment for students.

Thank you for your time and understanding.
An advocate for our daughters