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Free period products will be provided to students in all Ohio schools

 Former Hamilton County Commission on Women & Girls student members Kinsey Sullivan (left) and Shoshana Stern talk about the importance of access to free period products
Zack Carreon
Former Hamilton County Commission on Women & Girls student members Kinsey Sullivan and Shoshana Stern talk about the importance of access to free period products during a press conference on July 27, 2023.

This upcoming school year, all public and private schools that enroll girls in grades 6 through 12 will be required to provide free period products for students. Schools will be provided with funding to supply these products at no cost to the student.

The funding for the program comes from Ohio's newly signed state budget, where $5 million will be given to schools across the state to purchase products and dispensers that can be installed in bathrooms.

The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners held a press conference Thursday alongside Cincinnati Public Schools to talk about how the change will impact local schools.

CPS Superintendent Iranetta Wright says the district plans to provide free period products in every bathroom at all of its schools by the end of this upcoming school year. But with the first day of school just weeks away, it will take time to accomplish that goal.

RELATED: Free menstrual product dispensers are now in 72 Hamilton County-owned bathrooms

"School starts August 17, so quite naturally we will not have those 900 bathrooms done by August 17, but it's a top priority because we do want to make certain that in everything we do, we're providing equity to our students and this is one way to do it," Wright said.

Hamilton County Commission Vice President Denise Driehaus says the change was made possible by a years-long effort from local organizations from around the state, like the Hamilton County Commission on Women & Girls.

Two former student members of the commission, Kinsey Sullivan and Shoshana Stern, say getting free period products in schools can make a big difference for students and is something many young women have been asking for.

"Eighty percent of teens have reported missing class time or know a friend that had to miss school due to not having the necessary products while menstruating," Sullivan said.

Stern, who graduated from Sycamore High School and now attends Indiana University, says the legislation is a major step toward equality in Ohio's schools.

"Policy and budget designations often disregard period products as a necessity and are therefore considered 'not allowable,' " Stern told reporters. "It is time that tampons and pads, and all menstrual products are provided for in the same way as toilet paper, soap, and other necessities within these bathrooms."

RELATED: Scotland is making free period products the norm

CPS and the Board of Commissioners agree removing the financial burden of purchasing period products from students will help improve their academic performance and raise attendance rates.

School districts will soon start receiving grant funds to purchase their own menstrual products and dispensers.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.