(flickr.com)

Angie Hentze, trustee, Greater Victoria School District said that 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.

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.