Boston Public Schools to Offer Students Free Menstrual Supplies: It's 'About Equity'

Female students in Boston will still have to worry about grades and homework next year, but there will be a lot less stress around on major event: their periods.

Boston Mayor, Martin J. Walsh, has announced a new pilot program that will provide free menstrual supplies to 77 Boston Public Schools across the city.

The products will be available in all city schools that teach students in grades 6-12, and will launch in the fall of the 2019 school year.

“This pilot program is about equity in our schools, and among our young people,” Walsh said in a statement Monday. “Nearly one in five girls in the U.S. have left school early, or missed school all together because they didn’t have access to menstrual products. I’m proud BPS continues to be a leader in equity, ensuring our students have the resources they need, and access to the same opportunities.”

The mayor’s statics were pulled from a survey produced by Feminine hygiene brand Always, which talked to American females aged 16-24.

The supplies will be ordered by Boston Public School Health Services, who will then distribute them out to school nurses. The nurses will eventually partner with select teachers who will also be able to dole out supplies.

“I’m grateful to Mayor Walsh for funding this important program, and making sure that girls in BPS don’t have to choose between taking care of their health, and going to class,” Laura Perille, Interim BPS Superintendent, said in a statement. “Offering free, easily accessible menstrual supplies means that more students will have access to the supplies they need, and are able to stay in class and focus on their education.”

Walsh set aside the $100,000 investment for the program in his budget for the 2020 fiscal year.

The pilot program in Boston comes one year after New York did the same in July 2018 with legislation that required all school districts, serving grades 6-12, to provide free feminine hygiene products, including menstrual pads and tampons, in restrooms.

“New York leads the nation is breaking down barriers to equality, and this legislation is a critical step forward in ensuring every girl in New York has the same opportunities to grow into a confident, successful woman,” New York Governor Cuomo said in a statement.

The law came two years after New York passed a bill that provides free access to tampons and sanitary pads in schools, homeless shelters and jails.

Illinois also put a similar law into effect in January of last year, calling feminine hygiene products a “health care necessity and not an item that can be foregone or substituted easily.”

Chicago, meanwhile, repealed their tax on feminine hygiene products in 2016.

Access to menstrual supplies has been an issue receiving increased awareness across the country in recent years.

The campaign for menstrual supplies inspired Harvard University student Nadya Okamoto to launch the non-profit PERIOD. in 2014, which provides period products to homeless women.

She told PEOPLE in October that PERIOD. now has partnerships with Kotex, Tampax and Diva Cup, and has addressed over 380,000 periods with their period packs.

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