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Teacher provides free 'pad bags' to make students' menstrual cycles easier and sees instant results

'If a scholar can say, 'I need a pencil,' and it's not a problem, why can't it be, 'I need a pad.' Why is that any different?'

Teacher provides free 'pad bags' to make students' menstrual cycles easier and sees instant results
Cover Image Source: Instagram/Kylie DeFrance

A Texas middle school teacher is making sure no student feels ashamed of or has to miss class time due to their menstrual cycle. As an eighth-grade teacher at an Austin-based charter school where most students are economically disadvantaged, Kylie DeFrance quickly realized that many of her female students—who are between the ages of 12 and 14—lack access to menstrual products. Knowing how stressful the teenage years can be even without having to worry about periods, DeFrance now keeps "pad bags" filled with feminine hygiene products at her desk in her classroom so that any student can take them at any time.



 

"I want to provide them with what they need, whether that be a pencil or a tampon," DeFrance told CNN. "A lot of these scholars go home and are the parent to their siblings, and maybe can't go to the store that day. Or, they can't afford the pad or tampon that would be best for them, or maybe they don't have a good relationship with their parents." Speaking to Good Morning America, she revealed that she launched the pad bags initiative in her first year of teaching, eight years ago, when she saw female students missing instruction time due to their periods.



 

"I’ve had scholars that were missing school constantly or were disappearing in the bathroom for 30-plus minutes," DeFrance said. "Or I've had scholars that say, 'I have to go to the bathroom,' or 'to the office,' and they're gone for half the day." Soon after she began providing free pads, tampons and heating pads to her students, she noticed that they were able to stay in class and focus on learning. "It is such a huge difference to see how much instructional time that they are not missing that they were before," she said.



 

 

"I had one scholar who would literally disappear into the bathroom for 30 minutes, five days a week, once a month, who is now not disappearing in the bathroom at all, and her grade went from a 'D' to an 'A.' She's an excellent scholar," DeFrance added. "That just goes to show that having your period should not conflict or cause a difficulty with your learning if you're provided with the things that you need to be provided with." When she began a new teaching job at Austin Achieve—a public charter school—last August, she started purchasing feminine hygiene products at her own expense to store in her classroom.



 

However, as word spread at the school that DeFrance was providing easy-to-access period supplies in her classroom, the demand grew. She was soon spending over $100 of her own money every month on supplies. In January this year, she decided to post her Amazon wish list—full of menstrual products—to her neighborhood's Nextdoor page and was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support from the Austin community. "I thought two or three boxes would come in," DeFrance said. "My community blew me away with how much support they provided."



 

Although DeFrance has tried to keep track, she says she stopped counting after 300 boxes. Over 4,000 boxes of pads and more than 3,000 boxes of tampons are estimated to have been donated so far. "It blew my mind," she said of the response to her post. "I had never met any of these people. I don't know any of these people, but I had hundreds of boxes at my door." After her story went viral, Always—a maker of feminine hygiene products—contacted DeFrance with an offer to donate Always Pads. "If a scholar can say, ‘I need a pencil,' and I can give them a pencil and it's not a problem, why can't it be, 'I need a pad.' Why is that any different?" DeFrance said. "I would not send a scholar to an office for a pencil, so why do I need to send a scholar to the office for a pad."

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