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Bend Senior HS students reach goal of improving access to menstrual products across state

(Updated: adding video, comments from students)

Students champion statewide in-school access to menstrual products

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Periods and menstruation are topics that historically have been taboo to talk about. Some students at Bend Senior High School challenged that stigma, and as a result are improving the lives of their fellow students across the state.

Students in the Design Justice class at Bend Senior High are celebrating a tangible victory for a long-championed project, as free menstrual products are now in place at schools throughout Bend-La Pine Schools and are also being installed in schools across the state under new legislation.

For more than two years, the students advocated for the project, testifying before state lawmakers on behalf of the Menstrual Dignity Act and, after the law’s passage, helping design and edit a toolkit to implement the new guidelines.

Bend Senior High junior Olive Nye took the class and has worked to make free menstrual products a reality.

"Personally, as a woman and a menstruator, I was super excited to see what we could accomplish," Nye told NewsChannel 21 on Friday.

Last spring, students in the Design Justice class testified before lawmakers about the bill, which requires free period products be accessible inside school bathrooms, and also spoke in front of the Bend-La Pine School Board.

"It wasn’t really talked about, it wasn’t really brought up, and I think we were just kind of complying and figuring out what we had to do to work around the issue," Nye said.

Sasha Grenier with the Oregon Department of Education said the toolkit designers reached out to the Bend Senior High students after their testimony during the House Committee on Education in March. 

“It was integral to the project to have student voice in the Toolkit, so that implementing Districts and schools would know how best to provide menstrual products and education in a way that centers student privacy, dignity, and access,” Grenier said.  

Teams from Bend-La Pine Schools’ maintenance and custodial crews worked to install dispensers filled with product at high schools and middle schools in August and in the fifth-grade wings in elementary schools by Dec. 1.

Nye says not having accessible menstrual products takes away from class time, can be hard to talk about, and is expensive.

"I just think it's more convenient for every student and has been kind of life-saving for some of our kids here," Nye added.

Students in the class also helped review the type of product to stock, getting support for Bend-La Pine Schools to use 100% biodegradable, all-paper products that are sustainable. 

"iI came in, and I saw the products, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, they're here!'" Nye recalled. "I had always been sending emails about and writing about, and then suddenly the actual dispenser was in front of me."

"It's even saved me a couple of times this year."

Other students feel the same.

Bend Senior High sophomore Isobel McDonald has been part of the effort by students and says it’s gratifying to see the dispensers in place. 

“It's exciting to work on projects where we get to see real-time results," she said. "The menstrual product dispensers, which provide free tampons and pads, are creating equity and providing a product that all students can access easily, which hasn't always been the case. The process of working to bring dispensers to the district and to also work on the state law has been really rewarding.”

Sophomore Neve Gerard said, "It's really cool we were able to get this opportunity, and it makes it easier, especially for lower-income students."

Teacher Matt Fox says this kind of real-world action provides students with opportunities to gain leadership skills. 

“Watching our students take on this issue and follow it from idea to implementation has been incredible," Fox said. "I’m proud of the class and watched them develop into leaders who care about making positive change in the world.”

The units at middle and high schools are up and running with products, and those at elementary schools should be filled with products soon, if not yet already in place. Next on the list is for maintenance to install dispensers in all women’s bathrooms and family/gender-neutral bathrooms.

Those wanting to learn more about the project can check out the Oregon toolkit, which helps spell out the law and inform schools on how to roll it out. 

Author Profile Photo

Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

Comments

40 Comments

  1. What’s with this bizarre, ongoing push to replace the world “equality” with “equity”? Also, while I agree that women should have access to dispensers such as these as a standard in school restrooms, why are they are they free? I understand they are necessities of life, but so are a lot of things and those aren’t free.

    If these are freely given then access to even more important things such as school lunches should be free as well (For everyone.).

    1. Nobody replaced those words and they don’t even mean the same thing. What kind of delusional, clueless people are you allowing to post on here, Barney? This whole forum is pathetic and dumb

    2. And I suppose toilet paper shouldn’t be free either. I’m sorry but we’re talking about teenage girls and the potential for embarrassment. Have some compassion because kids can be really hard on each other.

      1. Oh PULEEZE, geez Martha are you serious??? When I was in high school we brought our own products and put them in our lockers and then we we transfer them to our backpacks. Sorry, but we women/girls werent all that weak in those days. We were strong women then, not soft little cupcakes who embarrass at everything under the sun.

        1. – so, you have never experienced being in need of necessities and not having them? – good reason to wield your privilege as a stick – yea, you are strong, and people in need are weak… “Oh PULEEZE” – mortifying

      1. Personal feminine products weren’t in our bathrooms in my day but you know what???? This is really genius…..we brought our own! Geez, why do some people have to make mountains out of mole hills or try to pole-vault over mouse droppings. Bring your own. We did..and we survived. In Europe you social justice folks would fall apart because in some places you have to pay to use the bathroom?? Get ready to clutch you pearls ladies and gentlemen…

        1. Not in their schools and guess what, in most European countries, they provide free feminine hygiene products to their students. We’re the uncouth nation. You don’t need to be crass to be a strong woman.

          1. Most European countries you say. Care to provide proof to back that up? BTW I’ve been to a lot of European countries and what you say is far from the truth.

            1. Scotland, Sweden, France, Germany and then there’s New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, parts of Canada. It seems there’s quite a movement of strong women’ in the world fighting to end “period poverty”.

          2. We are an uncouth country due to lack of feminine products in a bathroom. Really??? I remember hearing a fellow student from Zimbabwe in my class years ago say “You Americans complain you a are poor when you can’t find
            orange juice in your refrigerator.
            America is a great uncouth country 👏

            1. – getting pretty windy in here – good thing these young people are smarter, stronger, and kinder than you will ever be – you are not going to be able to shout them down, and it’s their world now

      1. What…you think free toilet paper is not already paid for under the schools budget???? Who pays for Janitorial Services at Schools. Life is not free, we all have to pay in a roundabout way called TAXES.

        1. Indeed, life is not free and we all pay the same price in the end.

          The story overall is fine, but some of the comments by the students make me wonder: are they being taught that everything important in life, no matter how small, is important that someone else pay for it? The basic issue of supplying hygiene products is being turned into some sort of moral victory, when all we are talking about is a paper product. I think the concerning aspect of the story is that it seems to imply being female is unfair, as if females are just weak and need to fight for justice and equity. It does seem some woke women believe men are out to demean and control every aspect of womens lives, yet don’t understand that their passiveness is what attracts those few men who are controlling: like attracts like and weak controlling men hunt out weak passive women.

          I don’t feel a sense of victory when I buy toilet paper at the store, but I am glad to have it as it works better than foliage.

    3. Equity is code word for the democrat goal of everyone equally miserable in poverty. Ot just isn’t fair some people work harder than others or inherit money, so everyone must be brought down to the lowest level.

      1. – better stay under your bed Joe – word is the libs, dems, antifa and BLM secretly run the world and they are coming for you – ‘cus, you know, making sure that all women and girls have hygiene products when they need them will surly be the end of civilization – it’s understandable why this makes you so scared

    4. “why are they are they free?” [sic] – because the girls need them and some don’t have them – someone needs to explain this to you? – are you mad ‘cus no one is giving them to you?

  2. This is news??
    Can’t wait until a real affiliate takes over and hires real journalists/reporters instead of the high school trainees they use now.

      1. This is a wonderful story! On many fronts this is a great accomplishment by our young women here in Bend. It is no small feat to play a role in state legislation! Having menstrual products available free of charge to our youth is the right thing to do. Many people don’t know how often it is a teacher or school nurse that help a young girl with her first period at school. Periods are often very irregular when your young and being surprised at school can cause a girl to need to leave and miss her education that day. Not every young girl has a parent that makes sure she has menstrual supplies available at home at all times. I could go on…but I will just finish by saying those students are amazing people! We should all be proud of their work!!!

        1. Not every child has a parent that makes sure their child has a packed lunch or money for lunch either. So again I ask “Where’s the free lunch for all?”. Why are girls special?

          1. – if someone came around and brought you a free lunch, would you feel better? – i am willing, in all seriousness, to do just that so you won’t post any more of this inane crap – “Why are girls special?” – indeed – mortifying

  3. Anything we can do to help our youth live a more focussed and successful lifestyle, IS GREAT! This is a wonderful step in the right direction for supporting our future generations. Sadly, it seems like there always gotta be some folks on the right who only think about themselves and their “tough situation” way back whenever. “We can’t help them… Beacuse I wasn’t helped!” -Coming from the pathetically close-minded people who only like to make things harder for everyone else. Just look at some of the self-centered comments on this story and you’ll see a good example of why this country is falling apart and more divided than ever. We’re helping our youth here people; Get a clue.

    1. The problem is we are helping our youth with something they dont really need help with when the resources would be better spent elsewhere. If it is every student’s responsibility to see that they have adequate clothing, food, and school supplies at their own effort and expense, why is not these young lady’s responsibility to see to their own needs at their own expense?

      I’m all for providing free of charge services as long as they are provided to everyone equally.

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