Students call on DeVos to offer free tampons, pads in schools to address 'period poverty'

Students call on DeVos to offer free tampons, pads in schools to address 'period poverty'
© Greg Nash

Student activists are calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosConsumer bureau head says Education Department blocking oversight of student loans Dem lawmaker: Betsy DeVos is 'a nice person, but boy she really is confused' Trump touts budget updates to fund Special Olympics, send astronauts to Mars MORE to combat “period poverty” by working to provide free menstrual products in school restrooms.

A group of about 40 students and adults marched near the Education Department on Monday, and took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post directed at DeVos.

The advertisement, in the form of a letter to the secretary, calls for pads and tampons in bathrooms, and comprehensive period health education for all students before the age of 12. It also asks DeVos to commission a study looking at “period poverty” among students.

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“Menstrual hygiene products are basic necessities, and the inability to access them affects a student’s freedom to study, be healthy, and participate in society with dignity,” the letter reads.

The Education Department did not respond to the Post’s request for comment. The Hill has also reached out to the department.

The rally and ad were both backed by United for Access, a campaign linked to feminine hygiene product company Thinx, and Period, a youth-led nonprofit focused on menstrual equity.

The letter was also signed by the heads of the two largest teachers unions in the country and a number of celebrities, including Margaret Cho, Busy Philipps and Cynthia Nixon, according to the Post.

The rally and ad are part of a nationwide movement to call attention to the ties between poverty and women’s health in the form of “menstrual equity.” A 2018 poll from period supplies company Always found that nearly 20 percent of girls in the US have missed school or left early because they did not have access to pads or tampons.

Some states and Washington, D.C., have stopped charging sales taxes on feminine hygiene products.

And a Democratic lawmaker who called on former House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDebate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 Liz Cheney faces a big decision on her future MORE (R-Wis.) to provide free products in all House bathrooms in July received hundreds of donations of tampons that he planned to distribute to his colleagues’ offices.