Denver school bathrooms are now stocked with free tampons and pads

A sign outside a girls bathroom indicating a sanitization station.
Girls’ bathrooms in Denver secondary schools are now stocked with free menstrual products. (Stacey Rupolo/Chalkbeat)

Free tampons and pads are now available in restrooms in Denver Public Schools middle schools, high schools, and schools that serve kindergarten through eighth grade.

The free menstrual products are available in girls’ restrooms, women’s restrooms, and all-gender restrooms, which were required by the school board last year. The initiative has been in the works for some time, spurred by the advocacy of a George Washington High School student who has since graduated, said district spokesperson Winna MacLaren.

School board member Tay Anderson, a proponent of free menstrual products, said he plans to introduce a resolution cementing the initiative in district policy. He will also propose putting free tampons and pads in boys’ and men’s restrooms for transgender students and staff. Anderson has said no student should have to miss school because they can’t afford menstrual products.

“This is an exciting step forward,” Anderson said. “But we have more work to do to make sure it’s solidified.” Former superintendent Susana Cordova and her staff supported the move, and Anderson said he wants to make sure that a future district leader couldn’t easily undo it.

Schools in Colorado are not required to stock campus bathrooms with menstrual products. State Rep. Brianna Titone, an Arvada Democrat, sponsored a bill last year that would have established a grant program to help schools provide free products. It did not pass.

Denver middle and high school students are beginning to return to classrooms for the first time since the pandemic shuttered school buildings in March. Upon returning to school, some educators cheered the addition of free menstrual products in student bathrooms.

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