Words by Tess Becker
Feminine products can be costly. Generally, products geared toward women and feminine presenting people have something called the ‘pink tax’, which refers to state sales tax on menstrual products, like tampons, and feminine pads. To some people, these products can be too expensive for them to have consistent access to.
This is something that educators and school nurses in Missouri were noticing as they say their students struggle to afford period products and have missed school because of periods.
In response, Missouri school districts are now offering free menstrual hygiene products to students thanks to a new source of state funding.
Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has $1 million to reimburse schools for menstrual hygiene products and now schools are going to start carrying them for free for students to help keep them in the classroom.
“We have heard stories about students not being able to fund these products for themselves,” Bart Washer, Interim Assistant Commissioner with the Office of College and Career Readiness, said. “The fact that they can stay in school because they now have access to products that they need, we can focus on that level of care to help them continue learning.”
Every district qualifies for at least $500 in reimbursement but can apply for more if they have more students or higher-need students.
“We're socialized to kind of overlook some of the issues that impact girls,” Jennings Senior High School Principal Cryslynn Billingsley said. “So here's another opportunity for us to address some of that socialization, and that you don't have to be ashamed about having a period.”