Getting your period is a huge moment in any young girl's life, and it can often be stressful trying to navigate bringing pads and tampons to school while dealing with cramps and period pains. What can be even more stressful is if that student comes from a home that is struggling financially and can't always provide the necessary products. Fortunately, students who attend public school in New Hampshire soon may not have to worry about whether their family can afford sanitary products because pads and tampons may be available in public schools for free.
According to The Huffington Post, the New Hampshire House recently passed a bill, otherwise known as the period poverty bill, that would make tampons and pads available for free in all public schools. The vote in the House was 211-135 in favor of the bill that would require all middle and high school female and gender neutral bathrooms to be stocked with tampons and pads for free, the Associated Press reports. Supporters of the bill point out that there are many students who can't afford the necessary products during menstruation and as a result, many of them stay home and miss out on school or rely on the school nurse to provide the products.
New Hampshire teen Caroline Dillon, 17, is credited with helping to spearhead this bill after learning about period poverty in her U.S. History class last year. She approached state Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover who helped her introduce the bill to the House. “I know for a fact that girls here and at the middle school will stay home if they don’t have access, and they’ll (do) awful things like using socks or newspaper or reusing things, and your risk for infection skyrockets,” Dillon told the Associated Press.
“I was horrified,” Dillon, who wants to work in women's health, added. “To think about my classmates being in need and not having the access to something so basic is just awful. I couldn’t really let that go. Once you know something like that, you can’t go back from it.”
Hennessy for her part urged those voting to see menstrual products as a necessity as much as toilet paper is. “We don’t ask children to bring their own toilet paper to school - the school supplies them,” said Hennessey. “While I know schools don’t get enough funding from the state and I will work to ensure they get as much as possible, I do feel this should just be a part of the school ordering (supplies) like toilet paper ... Even though it only applies to half the population, it is a necessity and people are not coming to school because of it.”
Dillon says she was happy to advocate for the cause. "I think a lot of kids in my generation are taking a stand on things across the country. We’re just done not talking about it ... and we want everybody to have the same opportunities regardless of circumstance."
The legislation now sits with the governor.