Free period products on the way to Oregon public schools

"If I was a student in a secondary education program, today, I would have benefited from a program like this."

Posted: Sep 7, 2021 6:56 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- For a lot of young people, it can be difficult to get the period products they need, and that's why House Bill 3294 was passed. 

It's called the "Menstrual Dignity Act." Gov. Kate Brown signed it into law earlier this year. It calls for free pads and tampons to be available in all public school restrooms in Oregon. 

Madison Schroder, a graduate student at the University of Oregon, said she wishes she had easier access to products when she was in high school. 

"If I was a student in a secondary education program, today, I would have benefited from a program like this, and I think it would be beneficial across the board," said Schroder. 

Getting your period and not having tampons or pads can be frustrating. Plus, Schroder said it can make an awkward situation even worse when you don't have what you need. 

"I think at a younger age, it's kind of embarrassing and awkward to ask that first time, or just ask in general for that product. If it's already available, there's more access and more ability to access those products and not being awkward and being like, 'Who do I ask? Who can I go to?'" said Schroder. 

The Oregon Menstrual Equity Initiative group, or OMEI, was founded by two Sheldon High School seniors. Violet Neal and Posey Chiddix were just freshman when they started the fight for free period products in Eugene School District 4J schools. Chiddix said this was no easy feat.

RELATED: 4J votes to make feminine hygiene products free in bathrooms

"We had really strong support from two school board members, but to get the rest of them on board, we just did not stop showing up. And then by November we got that policy passed and that was real exciting for all of those students involved," said Chiddix. 

Neal said she was surprised when the Menstrual Dignity Act was passed. 

"We have dealt with a lot of opposition in all of this, so it felt sort of like big milestone in the moment because a lot of other things we have done, it hasn't passed," said Neal. 

Even with this new law going into effect in July, Chiddix and Neal are still fighting to make period products available for everyone, everywhere. They're moving up to the city level, to provide free period products in public restrooms across Eugene. 

"We're hoping to with our capabilities now to get back into that, continue talking to city council members and actually seeing that come to some sort of progress and end because we would really like to see that implemented this year in our city," said Neal. 

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