Can I have a pad?

Can+I+have+a+pad%3F

Chloe Cunningham, reporter

On June 20, 2022, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a menstrual equity bill to give students access to free menstrual products at school. This bill was aimed to solve the ‘period poverty’ issue for students going to school. 

When this bill was passed, I didn’t think much of it. I couldn’t relate to the problem that other students had because I always came prepared to school and never really forgot to bring what I needed, it felt as if it didn’t concern me. This changed when school started up again and I was faced with the same problem that the bill was made to solve. I sat in my seat hoping I wasn’t going to leave the stain of shame when I stood up. Although this menstrual bill was signed to solve the period stigma, it wasn’t working for me. In fact, it felt like nothing changed since the law went into effect.

After the bill was signed, it seemed to disappear. I didn’t see anyone talking about it anymore, nor did I see my school taking the actions it needed to follow the purpose of the new law. Turns out that the health room and a handful of teachers have menstrual products for students. I had to dig and ask for a list of teachers who have them because I was never told formally where and who has these products. The problem is that the issue that’s trying to be solved isn’t being talked about enough. Student’s aren’t going to know where they can ask for help without being told where to go. If I don’t have a class with a teacher that carries menstrual products, where else am I supposed to go for help? In addition, I was disappointed when I read the list of teachers who had these products, I didn’t know any of them. How was I supposed to go up to a teacher I’ve never met in my life and ask for a pad? I knew this whole law was signed to lower period stigma, but how are we supposed to fulfill its purpose if students don’t even have the courage to ask for help?

The last place I can go to for menstrual products are my friends. I’m lucky to have prepared and caring friends that are willing to let me use their products without anything in return. I feel like a burden whenever I ask for pads from my friends because my friend’s also have to use their own products and they can’t always be letting me lean on them. I don’t blame them either. 

 Recently the question, what if the students steal the products, has been brought up. It shouldn’t be called “stealing.” These products are free for students; it’s a necessity not a privilege. Every student deserves to be able to take as many products as they want. Whether it’s one or ten, eventually all those products will be used and won’t be wasted. I visited Ke’elikolani Middle School in November for a band concert and I was pleasantly surprised when I went to their bathrooms. The school had menstrual products out in the open, free for anyone who needed them without asking for permission. If this middle school can provide the menstrual products that students need, why can’t we?

This bill was supposed to help all students of Hawaii who need menstrual products. If this issue is still occurring after all this time, how are we going to ever fix any problem at McKinley? I believe that this can still be solved if everyone starts taking the right actions and talking about it more. This may not be a problem for certain people, but it is definitely real and it’s devastating that McKinley is doing the bare minimum.