A teacher has been praised online after sharing her innovative way of helping young girls feel comfortable with their periods – especially when they start unexpectedly during the school day.
For too many of us, thanks to a lingering societal idea that menstruation is embarrassing or shameful, that first speck of blood is entry to a very secretive club; you start hiding your tampons in your sleeve as you go to the bathroom, quietly suffering through period cramps, and speaking about your menstrual cycle in euphemisms (think Aunt Flo and ‘time of the month’, for starters).
And, for many, things are even worse: earlier this year, it emerged that girls in Leeds, UK, were missing school during their periods as they were unable to afford sanitary products.
However, Kristin Heavner – who teaches at a high school in Southgate, USA – has taken to Facebook to share her advice on making sanitary products more easily available for students.
“I have been doing this for a little bit now,” writes Heavner. “I use my old ipsy make up bags and make ‘menstruation care packs’ for my students who start their periods unexpectedly. In middle school this happens A LOT.”
Heavner continues: “I put a few pads in the bag and a couple tampons and panty liners, and I also add a few prewrapped disposable wipes.
“The students know that they can come ask, and they get a really pretty bag with their needed supplies inside. It’s discreet and more fun that being handed a giant pad. I make sure to tell them to take as much as they may need for the whole day.
“I make a point to ask if they need more to take home.”
Heavner’s approach also no doubt means her students are more comfortable with the subject as a whole. In her post, she urges people to redress their own misplaced discomfort with menstruation, and finishes by pointing out that while the school did have pads available, her method was much easier for girls who do feel awkward about it (and who might, let’s face it, be needing products urgently).
“The last thing they want to do is head to the office, wait in line, ask for what they need, and walk back to the bathroom.”
“I am right across the hall from the bathroom,” she adds, “and that makes it much more convenient for them.”
The post has been shared over 10,000 times on Facebook so far, and generated over 1,500 comments – with many teachers and parents saying they felt inspired to follow suit.
“People like you make me a lot more comfortable asking for what I need,” wrote one. “Thank you for doing that for girls.”
Another added: “A very awesome and thoughtful thing to do for your students – I would have appreciated this about 48 years ago.”
“Coming from a dad with two girls – thank you for being so thoughtful,” said one. “I'm sure the girls in need appreciate it more than words could express.”
Congratulations to this teacher on setting the bar high; fingers crossed it encourages more people to bash period taboos.