Girl Scout cookies are sweet on their own, but the treats taste even sweeter when they come with a side of menst-rual equity. That’s exactly what one Girl Scout troop in western Ohio served up recently when they petitioned their school district to install “hygiene lockers” in the bathroom, and used money from their cookie sales to get the job done.
The Ohio troop solved an age-old problem in their school when Girl Scout Jordan questioned how she and her classmates who menstruate are supposed to get tampons and pads to the bathroom when their school doesn’t allow them to carry bags.
Because they didn’t want to just carry the products in plain sight, people at the school had been secreting tampons to the bathroom in their sleeves or skirt waistbands since troop leader Jen Strickler attend class in the area.
That’s when the group of fifth-grade girls decided to do something about it, and came up with the idea of a locked cabinet in the bathroom where people can store their own mens-trual product, eliminating the need to sneak tampons to the bathroom, and cutting down on missed class time from people having to either visit their personal locker or the nurse’s office to get products before going to the bathroom.
“I wanted to pursue the project with my Girl Scout troop because I felt girls needed a way to be confident and have support during their periods,” Jordan, whose questions led to the project, told Teen Vogue.
“The lockers help girls be confident because instead of having to go down to the nurse and catch up with the work later, they can know the supplies are waiting for them.”
Since bags aren’t allowed in their school, and their uniforms don’t have pockets, Girl Scout Reagan said providing a space in the bathroom to keep menst-rual products was more than just a practical solution. It also helped cut down on how much class time students who had to go to the nurse’s office to get products would miss.
“Our choices were to stress or worry about hiding something. Miss class time or risk being found out,” she said. “We didn’t like any of the choices. You want to feel confident and empowered at school, not stressed and distracted. It made the most sense to have products in bathrooms, where you need them.”
“If you leave to go for a long time and come back and you were working on a worksheet, but then when the class finished it and you have no idea where they’re at,” Jordan said, highlighting the issue with missing class time to deal with your period.
In the U.S.
and across the world, not having access to menst-rual products can mean missing time in class like these girls describe, or missing school entirely if you aren’t able to get pads and tampons at all. Rather than perpetuate that, this troop went in front of their PTS to pitch the locker idea — which was sh-ot down by the school at first.
“We met with the PTS at the school and presented our idea about the lockers,” Jordan said. “They didn’t want to have lockers so we gathered the troop back together and have one big cabinet in the bathroom with bins. We presented the idea and this time they said yes.
“I felt frustrated at first [when they first said no],” Reagan said. “I didn’t understand why our school was saying no when our troop only saw the good things. The world would never change if we accepted every no.”
“I was thinking, ‘OK, it’s a not a full no,'” Girl Scout Alexis said, though troop leader Jen said it wasn’t always clear that the school would eventually come around to the idea. “We have to figure out what they didn’t like and fix it to make it OK.”
Eventually, the troop’s plan was accepted, and they then built the cabinets in school bathrooms and created flyers and poems to educate students of all ages about the new bins.
Now, Jordan said the cabinets are in full use.
“Whenever I look in the locker there have been a lot of people using it,” she said. Alexis said the success felt good personally and helped her classmates. Basically, it was a win all around.
“It felt good to help other girls and get the opportunity to do this,” she said. It was also a way for the girls in the troop to draw their entire community closer together, all over menstruation.
“It’s given them the chance to look at their community in a bigger way than their grade their class,” Jen said. “They’re seeing their entire school.”
This Story Was Originally Published On “teenvogue.com”.