School District 54 passed a policy to provide access to free menstrual products to students by end of year unanimously at their Nov. 19 board meeting. (Black Press file photo)

SD54 passes policy to provide access to free menstrual products to students

An April provincial ministerial order required all public schools to implement a policy by year-end

Students attending public schools in school District No. 54 – Bulkley Valley (SD54) will have access to free menstrual products in the washrooms by the end of 2019.

SD54 unanimously adopted its Menstrual Products for Schools policy at its Nov. 19 board meeting.

The policy was born out of a Provincial Ministerial Order issued April 5 of this year which requires all public schools to provide free menstrual products for students in school washrooms by the end of 2019.

READ MORE: SD54 shows design plans for new Walnut Park school

In issuing the order, Education Minister Rob Fleming said it’s time to normalize and equalize access to menstrual products in schools, helping to create a better learning environment for students.

“Students should never have to miss school, extracurricular, sports or social activities because they can’t afford or don’t have access to menstrual products,” said Fleming, adding that current research indicates one in seven students has missed school due to their periods because they cannot afford products.

“This is a common-sense step forward that is, frankly, long overdue. We look forward to working with school districts and communities to make sure students get the access they need with no stigma and no barriers,” the minister said.

The ministerial order – which takes effect immediately but allows districts until the end of 2019 to comply – comes with $300,000 in provincial startup funding. Over the coming months, the ministry will continue to work with school districts, community and education partners to look at the needs of each district, identify gaps and ensure they have the funding needed to meet this new requirement.

In addition, government is also providing a one-time grant of $95,000 to support the United Way Period Promise Research Project, to fund menstrual products for up to 10 non-profit agencies and research into how best to provide services and products for people who menstruate.

The scope of the SD54 policy includes the board ensuring menstrual products “are made available to students of all gender identities or expressions in a manner that protects student privacy” by providing barrier free, easily accessible products at no cost to students in school washrooms.

The policy will also consider student feedback.

READ MORE: School trustees raise their pay

“Having your period is a part of life, and easy and affordable access to menstrual products should be simple,” said Mitzi Dean, parliamentary secretary for gender equity, in a press release following the April 5 ministerial order. “Menstrual products should be available to people when and where they need them, which is why we’re improving access in schools and in communities. These actions are going to make a big difference in the lives of people who menstruate, and I’m proud that our government is taking leadership on this issue.”



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com

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