As a high schooler, I think the two most significant changes that must be advocated for in our fight against period stigma are free period products in school bathrooms and a change in period education in school systems. In many public schools, menstruation, if taught at all, is taught in sex education classes, rather than biology classes. This distinction, from personal experiences, has highly stigmatized periods and made students feel as though they are shameful or unnatural. Sex education classes already carry so much stigma on their own; students typically consider all aspects of that class to be embarrassing or awkward, versus students usually think of systems like the sleep cycles and digestives systems (that they learn in biology) as normal and humane processes, so periods should definitely fall under biology curricula. But, bringing it back to free period products, I think the most important thing that the government could do to reduce period stigma would be to make menstrual products free and accessible to all Americans. This action would not only decrease period poverty across the United States, but would decrease the stigma surrounding menstruation on a national scale, as well. I feel as though this policy could extend to companies, too. Companies don’t have to wait for the government to pass legislation destigmatizing periods. They should make it a priority now to provide free menstrual products in their office bathrooms, as well as making their female employees feel more comfortable taking sick days because of period related pain, possibly even revising their period sick leave policies. Thus, I think an effective way for individuals to act would be to advocate for free menstrual products by reaching out to their state and local representatives, schools, and companies, to prompt said policy and practice changes. Additionally, I think it is important for women to feel comfortable sharing their own personal experiences with their periods, if we really do want to normalize menstruation. This is the reason why I am here today sharing my own story. Like I have been given today, girls must be given a platform to express their own personal experiences and stories with menstruation, as well their ideas for how to solve the stigmas that exist. This said, non-female identifying individuals must also be ready to listen to each woman’s story regarding their period. So, through allyship with governmental agencies, schools and companies, I think we can definitely move towards free period products and cultural changes in regards to how we talk about periods.
How do you think we might try to destigmatize periods?