Education and community partners gathered at Reynolds Secondary school to celebrate the official launch of the Greater Victoria school district’s efforts to provide stigma-free access to menstrual products for all students.
“With all 60 school districts taking action and providing stigma-free access to menstrual products in school washrooms, we are making real changes in the lives of our students,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “Removing unnecessary and inequitable barriers for students is an important issue long advocated for by the United Way Period Promise campaign. This initiative is enthusiastically supported by all our partners, including the BC Green caucus, which also advocated for this change.”
The Greater Victoria School District has always had menstrual products available for students in school offices. This year, it will step up its efforts to make the products more accessible to avoid stigmas. This school year, to make these products more accessible, baskets will be placed in secondary and middle school washrooms to ensure all students have stigma-free access to these products. Supplies will also continue to be made available through the main school office and counsellor offices. In elementary schools, products will be available in some washrooms, as well as the main school office and in counsellor offices.
“Tackling period poverty closes the gap on gender inequality,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Having a period is a part of life for more than half of British Columbia’s population. It’s important for all students to have the opportunity to participate fully in school activities, and that means having free and open access to menstrual products.”
Fleming issued a ministerial order in April 2019, requiring all B.C. public schools to provide stigma-free access to free menstrual products for students in school washrooms. A number of districts have already made these products available to students well ahead of the start of this school year.
It is up to individual school districts to determine how they will make menstrual products available to students, so long as they are free and available in washrooms by the end of 2019. For example, some districts are implementing baskets, while others plan to install dispensers.
Angie Hentze, trustee, Greater Victoria School District —
“We believe in building inclusive schools where each student has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. No student should ever feel they are not able to focus on their education or participate in the classroom or in activities because they cannot afford or do not have access to menstrual products. We are very excited by the ministry’s commitment to ensure free menstrual products are provided in all B.C. schools and are easily accessible to students because it limits barriers and improves equity in all of our schools.”
Kate Hansen, Grade 12 student, Reynolds Secondary —
“It’s only natural that roughly half the school’s population experiences menstruation. What’s unnatural is the stigma and the problems many have faced by simply having their period.”
Tom Aerts, principal, Reynolds Secondary —
“I am very pleased that the government is providing free menstrual products to students in B.C. It is important that we remove any barrier to attendance for students and this is a positive step for students and families who are not able to afford these products.”
- One in seven students miss school due to their periods because they cannot afford menstrual products.
- When supplies are not easily accessible in school washrooms, students can feel uncomfortable having to go to an office to ask for them or miss a portion of class if they are kept in a location that is not easily accessible.
- Government committed $95,000 to the United Way Period Promise research project, which will distribute menstrual products to 12 non-profit agencies that serve vulnerable populations throughout the province. The agencies will make the products easily accessible to clients from July 2019 to July 2020.
- The United Way funding builds on the work government is doing to reduce poverty in British Columbia. In March 2019, the B.C. government released TogetherBC, the Province’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy, which brings together investments from across government that will, over the next five years, help reduce overall poverty in the province by 25% and cut child poverty in half.
Find out more about the United Way Period Promise campaign: https://www.periodpromise.ca/
Read TogetherBC: B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: https://www.gov.bc.ca/TogetherBC/