Austin Schools Latest to Provide Free Menstruation Products
Public schools in Austin have joined a national movement toward eliminating period poverty.
The Austin Independent School District will now provide students dispensers of free maxi pads and tampons. Austin is the fifth-largest school district in Texas, uniting in efforts with Dallas-Fort Worth schools that will also offer free supplies this school year.
Austin’s middle and high school girls’ and gender-neutral bathrooms will see free pads and tampons. Dispensers won’t be installed in elementary school restrooms, but the free products will be available for staff and distribution.
“We know that it’s expensive for kids; we know that it’s a necessary supply. It really is,” said Lynn Boswell, a member of Austin ISD’s board of trustees, told The 19th. “We provide toilet paper. We need to provide this as well to our students. It just really shows students that we see them, and we understand that need, and we don’t want anything to be a barrier to their education.”
Twenty-three states have lifted taxes on menstrual products, while 17 states and Washington, D.C., require schools to provide them to students.
Texas does not mandate schools to offer free period supplies, but Austin’s move makes a great case in expanding equity.
The lack of access to these products can interfere with education. A 2021 study showed nearly 23 percent of students in the United States struggled to buy their own menstrual supplies. Thirty-eight percent of students said they couldn’t do their best schoolwork because of insufficient access to period products.
More than half of Austin’s nearly 75,000 students are reported economically disadvantaged.
Austin schools spent about $85,000 on dispensers and $70,000 on menstrual products this summer to make this initiative happen.