Are pads available where I live?

It really depends, which I know is a frustrating answer. Students and their allies have been working so hard to achieve menstrual equity for years and have made incredible strides at the local and state levels in some areas. Unfortunately, the United States does not have a national menstrual or period equity policy to cover everyone. At the time I’m writing this answer, there is a federal bill introduced in the United States Congress called the Menstrual Equity for All Act that seeks “a whole-of-government approach to eradicate period poverty and achieve menstrual equity,” including “giv[ing] states the option to use federal grant funds to provide students in elementary and secondary schools with free menstrual products.” You can read the bill here. You can read a press release from one of the bill’s sponsors, U.S. Representative Grace Meng of New York’s 6th Congressional District, here. What does that mean for you? Paying attention and talking to your friends about what is actually available, asking questions of the administrators and others in charge of your bathrooms, and maybe even research! Until there are national requirements and resources, we’re left with a patchwork of state, county, municipal, school district, and sometimes even school building policies and funding that mean whether pads are available depends on where you live. There are organizations advocating for change at all levels of government who you may end up wanting to partner with, but the simplest place to start could be asking your school building’s administer why there aren’t period products stocked in bathrooms at no additional cost for all students who menstruate and what they can do to change that.

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