A group of organizations and teachers’ unions is calling for free menstrual products to be provided in all of Ontario’s publicly funded schools.
The group, led by the Toronto Youth Council, made the request in an open letter to Education Minister Stephen Lecce on March 8.
The letter asks that free and accessible menstrual products be made available in all publicly funded elementary and secondary schools across Ontario’s 72 school boards.
They note that some districts, including the Toronto District School Board, have already begun the practice of their own volition.
“Menstrual products are a necessity and not a luxury,” the group writes.
“Providing all students with convenient access to free menstrual products helps to support their full participation in school activities, reduces stigma, and promotes gender equality.”
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The group says that without access to menstrual products, students’ school attendance and emotional well-being can be negatively impacted.
Signatories, including the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, are asking that the initiative be fully funded by the province and be put in place by the end of 2021.
As well, they have asked that literacy on menstrual health be made a mandatory education requirement in Ontario’s Health and Physical Education curriculum.
“The simple truth is that, for far too long we have ignored the issue about menstrual periods and that silence has hurt our young people,” the letter states.
“Every woman, girl, trans man, and gender non-binary person should be able to focus on their education and be active participants without having to worry about inadequate access to tampons, pads, and other menstrual products.”