You may be aware that over 60 percent of women and girls in Third World and developing nations do not have access to feminine hygiene products, but did you know that it’s also an issue here in the U.S.? Women and girls who live below the federal poverty line often cannot afford sanitary pads and tampons, sometimes causing them to stay home from school for a few days each month.

In 2015, New York City approved a bill that requires menstrual hygiene products be made available in public schools, prisons and homeless shelters. The bill was sponsored and promoted by city council member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who wrote, “No young woman should face losing class time because she can’t afford or simply cannot access feminine hygiene products. Providing young women with pads and tampons in schools will help them stay focused on their learning and sends a message about value and respect for their bodies.” New York City’s bill is incredibly progressive; access to feminine hygiene products continues to be a concern for women and girls in low-income communities across the country.

My students need health and feminine hygiene products as growing adolescents.

This year, I will be teaching middle school English and social studies. As a sixth grade teacher, I am responsible for supporting the students through their transition to the first year of middle school. I will be working with about 60 different students in an ethnically and linguistically diverse, low-income community. As an educator, I believe that liberal arts are a powerful tool to promote civic engagement, public service, and social justice.

Everyone can remember and relate to every uncomfortable part of middle school and the wonder that is puberty.

I believe it is important to create a classroom where the “growing pains” of middle school are not an obstacle to learning in the classroom. Most of my students come from low-income homes where access to quality hygiene and nutrition products can be difficult. I would like to give my students access to deodorant for their changing bodies. I also selected feminine hygiene products, as when females often have their period, they are charged by the nurse or office for uncomfortable and outdated products. Lastly, I selected nutrition bars as an important classroom resource. As students are growing and changing, it is essential to nourish their bodies with healthy nutrients to help maintain focus and energy.

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