Suffering in Silence: Menstrual Products Needed in School Bathrooms


Kiera Roux

Period Products

Almost every high school menstruating student has had that day where they’re sitting in class and oop — they realize they’re on their period. The scene always unfolds in the same, awkward way: the class is quiet (of course the class is quiet, the 1 time when they need to pull a crinkly pad or tampon out of their backpack). Pads and tampons seem to be made of the most loud, wrinkly plastic — students might as well just announce to their class, “Hey everyone, I’m pulling out a period product because, obviously, I’m on my period!” Believe me when I say this, it is so embarrassing.

You may be thinking, “Sure, every person with a mature enough vagina gets their period. Why is it embarrassing? What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is the weird looks people give you as you try to pull your “secret bag” out of your backpack, trying to do it in such a way that no pads or tampons make a loud crinkle sound. Every period-having person’s worst nightmare is when a pad or tampon slips out of their bag or pocket and draws everyone’s attention. This happened to me once, and luckily for me, only 1 person saw it. However, the male student who saw it thought the incident was very funny and began to laugh in the middle of our dead-silent classroom. I pretended it didn’t happen and hurried to the bathroom.

Another junior girl who shall remain anonymous related to the stigma around periods. “Periods are definitely embarrassing to have in school, even though 50% of the population has them. There’s just a certain shame that I feel all menstruating people can relate with. Just like grabbing a pad or tampon out of your backpack and it’s… crinkling and then everyone can hear and it’s just an awkward experience,” she said.

Another common occurrence with periods is when you reach in your bag for a product and realize with horror, I didn’t restock after my last period. This leaves you awkwardly waiting for class to end, your mind plagued with the idea that you’ve already bled through your pants.

All of these issues would be resolved if Campolindo provided period products in the school bathrooms. How difficult would it really be to have either a dispenser for period products or some sort of storage area in bathrooms stocked with period products?

“I think that having period products be free and placed in the bathrooms will be extremely beneficial to the student body. I remember 1 time I was in class and I just started my period and I had bled onto the seat and then I rushed out of class to go to the Wellness Center, but unfortunately it was far away from my class. So it took quite a while to get that pad and then actually change into it before returning to class. And I just thought that the experience was quite embarrassing because my teacher obviously gave me a look like, ‘Why were you in the bathroom for so long?’ And I think that if menstrual products were inside the bathrooms already that would definitely save a lot of time for menstruating students,” the girl said.

Yes, the Wellness Center and the nurse’s office offer products to poor students in need. However, both of these are located in the A building, which is inconvenient to those who need quick access. A common fear most people on their periods have is bleeding through their pants, which is why a long walk from the E building to the A building, for example, is very difficult. The longer the walk (which can be painful due to cramps), the more likely the chance you’ll bleed through and feel embarrassed.

Again, if products were available in nearby bathrooms, this would eradicate this issue. The recent California Assembly Bill 367, passed on October 8 of this year, requires that schools provide free menstrual products in bathrooms for the 2022-2023 school year.

While this bill does make me, and undoubtedly other period-sufferers, sigh in relief, we still have 7 whole months until school ends. For those on regular periods, that means 7 more cycles in the school year! Campolindo, the school that, according to their mission statement, “strives to inspire and empower every student by fostering…well-being” could make good on their mission by putting menstrual products in the bathroom long before our next school year, alleviating the social and physical pain periods cause their students.