‘Menstrual equity’ means free pads, tampons in all-gender bathrooms in London high schools

Free pads and tampons are now available in all-gender bathrooms at London's public high schools. London Central Secondary School/Twitter

Offering free menstrual products at public high schools across London is a “small action” that aims to help young people living in poverty.

Matt Sereda is the equity and inclusivity education learning co-ordinator with the Thames Valley District School Board and has helped get pads and tampons inside the board’s 26 high schools and 12 alternative education classrooms.

The products became available to students, free of charge, on Wednesday.

“The menstrual equity initiative is Thames Valley’s recognition that not all students, unfortunately, are able to afford menstrual products,” said Sereda, noting that London has the third-highest rate of child poverty of cities surveyed during the 2015 census by Statistics Canada.

Recognizing that transgender and non-binary students might need them too, Sereda said the pads and tampons can be found inside all-gender bathrooms.

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Products were previously provided by public health agencies through schools’ offices, though last year a couple of high schools started offering them directly inside bathrooms.

The idea to launch an official pilot project came after being approached by the organizers of Tampon Tuesday, a local initiative that gathers feminine hygiene products for the London Food Bank.

Sereda hopes to have conversations about moving the initiative past the pilot stage and even expanding it to other schools.

“It’s an opportunity to provide some dignity and respect related to menstrual products, and have them easily accessible,” he said.

— With files from 980 CFPL’s Natalie Lovie.

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