New act brings menstrual products to all bathrooms at Lincoln


Tabitha Lee

Menstrual products in boys and girls’ bathrooms.

In October 2022, the Menstrual Dignity Act was implemented for all public school buildings in Oregon. Signed into law in July 2021 by Governor Kate Brown, this act requires free menstrual products to be provided for all students regardless of age, gender, ability or socio-economic status. This means that menstrual products will go into the girls and gender-neutral bathrooms and into boys bathrooms as well. 

The act is based on four pillars; privacy, inclusivity, access and education, according to the At a Glance: 2022/23 Menstrual Dignity for Students One Pager. Beyond the pillars, the act is designed to reduce stigmatization. 

Period stigma may not be as obvious to students today as it was a generation or two ago, but to many, this act is an example of the progress toward destigmatization. 

“It [menstruation] was a taboo topic,” said Nurse Mary Johnson. “The boys were asked to leave the class when it was taught in health class, so consequently it was a big mystery to half the student population.”

Since the act passed several months ago, several positive effects have been evident to students and staff. 

Senior Caroline Ambrose is a co-leader of the Lincoln chapter of the Period club. She believes that increasing accessibility to menstrual products is an important step towards inclusivity and addressing period stigma. 

“Menstrual products are a form of healthcare,” said Ambrose. “It’s important to have access to these products regardless of your gender identity, so you can learn and have a good experience [at school].” 

Katie Shoemaker, a language arts teacher at Lincoln, also believes the act will have a positive impact. By making products more accessible, the act will help to relieve a financial burden. 

These necessary products can be a strain on a tight budget for many people, and those who have never had to purchase them for themselves have no clue. Having them be free and accessible is a game changer,” said Shoemaker. 

According to US News, the average menstruator spends $20 on menstrual supplies per cycle, and with 13 cycles a year, individuals could be spending up to $260 yearly. 

Unfortunately, these expensive products are sometimes misused by students. 

At West Sylvan, we’ve had teachers reach out to us and say that pads are being stuck on the walls and flushed down the toilet, and tampons are being shot out of the applicator,” said Ambrose. 

Shoemaker agreed. 

It is disappointing to walk into a staff/student bathroom and see products strewn about the space, clogged in toilets or sinks, or stuck on walls,” she said. “I guarantee the people that did that don’t understand the importance of having them when needed.”

Ambrose believes that the solution to misuse relates back to the fourth pillar of the act, education. 

“I just think there’s a lack of education surrounding why those products are there, why they’re needed. And that’s why people are more prone to just kind of like waste if they don’t actually need them. Because they really do need to be there,” said Ambrose.