MCPS plans to install menstrual product dispensers in schools

By Grace Corbett

The Montgomery County Board of Education approved a plan to install menstrual hygiene product dispensers in Montgomery County secondary school bathrooms at a December 3 meeting. The Board will release a report outlining the timeline and cost of implementing the initiative by February 2021.

Student Member of the Board Nick Asante proposed the initiative in response to student advocacy from organizations across the county, including the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association, EmpowHER and the Montgomery County Junior Council.

Last school year, the Whitman Student Government Association developed the “Ladies” project, which aimed to increase student’s access to menstruation products by providing pad and tampon baskets in each bathroom. The initiative cost $120 each month, and students emptied baskets faster than expected. 

“There was a stigma around the whole project as menstruation is highly stigmatized, especially in a high school setting,” said SGA member Nada Fadul, who initiated the project.  “Those who don’t menstruate did not understand the necessity of the project until they realized the magnitude of the impact this project had.”

In the past, the school nurse has provided pads to students, but many haven’t taken advantage of this. They may not have the time to grab one or are embarrassed to ask for one.

“Sometimes, you will go to the bathroom and find out right there and you can’t walk over to the nurse’s office,” said senior Kat Gorlenko. “And you don’t want to have that awkward public interaction with the nurse that makes some people uncomfortable.”

For students, the county’s resolution will make using menstrual products in a school setting a more comfortable and accessible experience, junior Maddie Shavitz said 

“Putting this resolution will bring attention to something we all go through,” Shavitz said. “It will help a lot of people who need it.”