Story by: Kayla Kreutzberg
Photo by: UGDSB
The Upper Grand District School Board’s (UGDSB) equity department is continuing to introduce the period equity program to schools within the school board.
The rationale behind this program is that all people who menstruate should be able to access period products free of charge and with dignity.
Kevin Taylor, member of the board of directors for the Upper Grand Learning Foundation (UGLF) said the foundation is not part of the UGDSB, they are a not-for-profit organization that looks for areas where there is a need, and then they try to step into that void, and sew the void.
“Period equity has been a void in many places across Canada and around the world, and about two years ago, the UGLF made a donation to the UGDSB to purchase equipment that would allow for the period equity program to begin,” Taylor said.
Jessica Rowden, equity and inclusion lead for the UGDSB said because of the sizeable donation made by the UGLF, it allowed the UGDSB to have machines installed in the single stall for use by all washrooms at secondary schools in December and January of this year.
“We’re currently in the process of installing the machines in schools that have Grade 7 and 8 classrooms,” Rowden said.
The goal is to have those machines installed by March, 2021.
Rowden said for the UGDSB, a big part of the period equity program was the growth and learning around oppression, and those that experience it, which she said came at multiple levels of the process.
“For example, a big shift in our system in understanding that period products are similar to soap, toilet paper, they’re not an addition to, they are a basic hygiene product,” Rowden said.
Rowden said that a lot of the work was put into really supporting their system and understanding a shift in thinking around hearing that, all people who menstruate deserve to have access to period products, especially those who historically and currently experience more oppression.
She said that prior to the installation of machines, many secondary schools within the UGDSB were providing free period products in creative ways.
Taylor said the mission of the UGLF is to ensure that 100 per cent of UGDSB students have access to deep and varied educational experiences, regardless of their personal need or circumstance.
“We can’t do that when we have students stuck, afraid in a stall of a washroom because they don’t have a quarter in their pocket for strictly a sanitary reason,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that’s why the UGLF stepped into that void to ensure that students, staff, and visitors have access to these basic […] fundamental human needs.