Menstrual products now in all-gender, some girls’ bathrooms


Zoe Manousos

The menstrual product initiative, passed on Nov. 9, 2022, provides free menstrual products in each of the all-gender bathrooms, some girls’ restrooms and the nurse’s office.

Lila Shields, Assistant Opinion Editor

The menstrual product initiative, passed on Nov. 9, 2022, has officially been launched by members of the Student Council, providing free menstrual products in each of the all-gender bathrooms, some girls’ restrooms and the nurse’s office.

Sophomore Amelia Sinclair and junior Cass Melo are 2022-2023 co-chairs of the Student Council Policy Subcommittee, working together to research and spearhead the initiative. Both are passionate about ending period poverty. Period poverty is the inability to independently afford sanitary products.

 This initiative has been in the works since February of 2022 and was implemented recently, inspired by schools such as Natick High School, which has successfully reached the goal of providing period products in restrooms which proved it could be done. Melo and Sinclair’s goal was to ensure all menstruators have access to products at Algonquin. 

“We really want a safe and inclusive environment,” Melo said.

One in five menstruators lack proper access to period products according to Policy Lab. Stigmas around periods can impact communication and create tension revolving around this natural part of life. Student Council members took this problem in their own hands to create a change locally. 

“It was a labor of love and something I care very deeply about,” Sinclair said. “I’m really proud of all the progress we’ve made so far, and it hasn’t been easy but I hope to continue this work going forward.” 

Products are refreshed weekly by a member of the Student Council. There are both tampons and pads in the three all-gender bathrooms as well as the G100, H200, H300 and D200 girls’ restrooms. 

District Wellness Coordinator and Nurse Leader Mary Ellen Duggan, as of the fall of 2022, has played an active role in this initiative; she reinforces the importance to educate children young about menstrual cycles to eliminate unfactual information. 

“We need to start talking about this [period poverty and menstruation] before fifth grade,” Duggan said. “We need to make it a common language.”

Hope and Comfort in Needham has supplied period products for members at Algonquin and the Northborough Southborough community overall. Period poverty is an issue worldwide, and organizations like Hope and Comfort raise awareness to the problem and take action.

Throughout the high school and middle schools in the Northborough-Southborough District, there are period product dispensers in the single-stall bathrooms that are typically empty. Duggan went through the dispensers at Trottier Middle School, and with the help of the custodians, removed the coin operation, making it free to access. However, in order to dispense the period products, the machine must be twisted, which is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In order for the dispenser to be accessible for everyone, the twist mechanism should be replaced with a push button, or the products should be placed in a box or bin.

Duggan feels particularly passionate about the need for period products, as she has seen that students and families commonly reach out to the school nurses and food pantries requesting menstrual supplies. The I AM bill supports the cause of supplying products to schools, pantries, prisons and homeless shelters. There are currently no plans to fund this bill yet, but people are able to support the bill through donations. 

“We want to make sure there is no [classroom] more than a minute away from a bathroom with period products in it,” Duggan said.