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Anger at issues with period products in schools

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By Fiona Reid
Anger at issues with period products in schools

TEENAGERS have faced humiliating situations in Dumfries and Galloway schools because period products have been kept under lock and key.

Sanitary products which are supposed to be freely available to menstruating pupils are often locked up for fear of theft, or handed out one at a time in schools, it was revealed last week.

Lochar Councillor Tracey Little described this restrictive approach as “ridiculous” and the way to “humiliate our children in one easy step.”

Speaking at last week’s full council meeting, Councillor Little said: “Why are we locking up and guarding period products that are supposed to be free and freely available to our pupils?

“And why are we dishing them out one at a time?

“Many of our pupils do not have the finances to be able to purchase enough to last the whole period time, and this is the very reason they’re free.

“Justification is sometimes given that they could be stolen if they’re freely accessible — and that is ridiculous.”

The Period Products (Free Provision) Act 2021, was passed in late 2020, placing a legal duty on local authorities to ensure anyone who needs products used during menstruation – such as tampons, menstrual cups, and sanitary towels — can access them for free.

Dumfries and Galloway Council was ahead of the game, having already made these products free and available in schools.

However, Councillor Little is disappointed at the restrictions and the awkward and embarrassing situations girls can find themselves in requesting sanitary products from school staff.

She tabled a motion at last week’s full council meeting demanding changes where period products in school should be freely available in bathrooms, and those in need of them should not have to inform or seek permission from a staff member.

“If they’re going missing, it’s because they’re needed,” said Councillor Little. “There isn’t a black market for tampons.”

Meanwhile, Abbey Councillor Kim Lowe, who seconded the motion, added: “The additional indignity of walking the extra distance to collect an item which should be accessible in the toilet is extremely embarrassing. Then to receive just one item, and have to repeat the exercise later in the day more than once, is not acceptable.”

Councillors unanimously agreed to ensure that schools make period products freely available in bathrooms.

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