Student-led ME Project to Provide Free Menstrual Products in OCDSB Schools

Student-led ME Project to Provide Free Menstrual Products in OCDSB Schools
Posted on 01/26/2021
Student-led ME Project to Provide Free Menstrual Products in OCDSB Schools

On January 26, 2021, the Board of Trustees approved a motion to provide students with free menstrual hygiene products in school washrooms across the district. This initiative was led thanks to the advocacy of students. 

The following is written by OCDSB Student Trustees Charles Chen and Joy Liu.

Menstrual equity is an invisible issue affecting thousands of students in OCDSB schools and billions of people globally. 

Because of the millenniums-old stigma surrounding menstruation, we don’t tend to think of period products as an essential good like toilet paper. But we should, because students can’t participate in school without period products. Students have had to leave school, miss class, be late to class, or use toilet paper as an inadequate substitute when they didn’t have access to period products. 

It was with these common and widespread experiences in mind that we set about creating the ME Project: a motion for the OCDSB to provide free menstrual hygiene products in all school washrooms.

The "ME" in the ME Project stands for menstrual equity, and the 2019-20 student trustees Ganaaboute Gagné and Prasith Wijeweera first began discussing this topic with students and followed the pilot started at Featherston Drive Public School with the intention of advocating for free period products in OCDSB school washrooms. 

We took on their advocacy work by creating a draft motion, then circulating our draft among stakeholders in order to receive their input and make revisions. The Student Senate endorsed our motion and gave us rich feedback from which we created entire new clauses. The Senators also distributed our anonymous feedback form to their school’s 2SLGBTQ+ student groups, so that gender diverse students gave us feedback on the level of inclusivity in our motion. We also sought feedback from OCDSB Chief Financial Officer Michael Carson, the Advisory Committee on Equity, and trustees, while student trustees from other boards supported us by providing advice on how they implemented similar motions. 

Finally, we created a letter of support for the motion on behalf of students, of which over 1400 signed and disclosed their own experiences, opinions and feedback, while students made delegations to the Committee of the Whole meeting where the ME Project motion was moved. We are proud to say it was then finally approved by the Board of Trustees on January 26th.

As a result of student voice and leadership at the heart of the ME Project, our collective vision of students being able to access free period products in school washrooms will be made a reality by 2022.

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