As part of its plan to introduce free menstrual products in all schools, an advisory committee with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) claims it’s “paramount” that the tampons and pads provided to students include gender-neutral packaging.

A January 28, 2021 report by the OCDSB’s Advisory Committee on Equity outlines the proposed Menstrual Equity (ME) Project which was passed at the beginning of this year. The project hopes to provide “coin-free” menstrual hygiene product dispensers in all student washrooms from grade 4 to 12 by September 2022. 

“Consideration for the needs of all student demographics in the implementation and maintenance of this initiative is paramount, for example, private and unsupervised access, usage of gender-neutral language and packaging,” reads the report. 

“Equity Instructional Coach Rice noted that she informed the Rainbow Educators and the LGBTQ2S+ community partners about the measures of the ME Project. All members of these stakeholder groups were in support of the motion and commented that the language contained within was thoughtfully considered.”

The report also calls on specific consultations with the Afro Caribbean Black community to ensure that “cultural sensitivity towards menstruation” is considered in the project’s implementation. 

“This initiative was approved in late January and a team is being put together to plan for implementation in the coming months. Part of that plan will include identification and evaluation of products prior to beginning procurement,” OCDSB Communications Coordinator Darcy Knoll told True North.

The push for gender-neutral language follows a trend of school boards implementing social justice oriented policies.

Last year, the Ontario Upper Grand District School board admitted that they were “systemically racist” as an institution and announced that they would be implementing “anti-racism” training. 

The plan includes a decision to ground all future decisions in “critical race theory.” 

Meanwhile, the York Region District School Board voted in September to rename Vaughan Secondary School due to its alleged historical ties to slavery. 

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