Many Feet, One Stall

Women should have the right to privacy when it comes to their menstrual products.

Many Feet, One Stall

Mackenzie Murray and Nuala McHugh

After the bell rings, students bounce from one class to another, frantically trying to push and shove their way through a sea of people in a race against the clock. Still, small moments of solace can be found in between all the hustle and bustle. 

One such rare oasis is the girls’ bathroom. Yet, many young women are finding their needs unattended in what should be a safe and private space.

With the discussion of access to feminine products rising to greater focus, many businesses, storefronts, and buildings in general are now providing feminine hygiene products for free in their restrooms. Should Strath Haven follow their lead and start providing feminine hygiene products to students, no questions asked, or should they shift their focus to other areas of improvement that lay in their bathrooms?

Feminine hygiene products are already available for free at Strath Haven—just stop by the nurse’s office and ask. However, this isn’t a progressive solution properly suited for our school.

E-hallpass, which places a time limit for how long one is allowed to be out in the hallway, is a barrier for feminine product accessibility. The nurse’s office is objectively out of the way from most classes. It is tucked away in the corner of the school, surrounded not by classes, but by a labyrinth of halls and offices. That tacks on a lot of time to the e-hallpass clock, and that’s just walking to the office. Returning to the bathroom to handle the business adds even more time. This puts girls in violation of the e-hallpass rules just for a natural occurrence that they can not control. 

Having feminine hygiene products already available in the bathroom cuts down on time and keeps the matter private. There is already a push to diminish the stigma around menstruation, but there is still a lot of progress to be made. High schoolers should be entitled to privacy and bodily autonomy. 

We conducted an informal poll to assess whether feminine products were prioritized over other amenities. Interviews were selected from a pool of girls who use the bathroom during the day. Ten girls in grades 9-12 were given a hypothetical on whether they would rather have feminine products or wifi in the bathroom. Wifi and cell reception are highly coveted here at Haven, with the cinderblock walls repelling any contact from the outside world. 

Even when presented with the possibility of wifi, the girls stated that feminine hygiene products would be more important. In a world where phones are intertwined with daily life, girls chose feminine hygiene products over phone reception access. This shows a great need – a need that Strath Haven is not fulfilling. 

“Feminine products should absolutely be provided for women,” senior Sofia Phillips said. “It’s a necessity that we need to take care of right now.” 

According to our interviewees, not everybody has equal access to feminine products depending on certain factors in their life. Many girls face a variety of financial concerns, family issues, and other obstacles standing in their way of access to menstrual products. Some girls simply can’t get the products they need. 

While the nurse’s office fulfills the need for general accessibility, the guarantee of privacy is removed. Giving girls dignity and the right to privacy is female empowerment. Starting with something as simple as a more private bathroom experience is creating empowered women of the future at Strath Haven.