By Taxpayers Association of Oregon
After passed by lawmakers, the Menstrual Dignity Act is now being implemented in every public school in Oregon. The law requires a menstrual product delivery device in every school bathroom for both girls and boys restrooms. This includes elementary, middle and high school. Some estimate the cost at $400 per device, per bathroom. Over five million taxpayer dollars has been allocated for this project to help provide these health items to disadvantage students who need it. The State has issued guidelines which offer recommendations which include providing products in a way so that they can “be accessed within a single stall” for maximum accommodation.
By mandating such devices to be in every restroom (guidelines recommend every single stall), the law does not allow for flexibility by each school.
The mandate does not allow for local decision making on how these schools can best implement the goal and therefore achieve the best results. If a school finds that the inflexible mandate results in excess mis-use and abuse then it means less products getting into the hands of the people who need it and therefore works against the intentions of the bill. Waste and shortages of toiletries in restrooms seems to be universal problem, not just with school restrooms but with most public restrooms known to man.
Inflexible mandates have a history of interfering with school success:
• Consider Charter schools. These schools are given more flexibility and as a direct result their test scores and graduation rates excel above their comparable peers. Yet, the State of Oregon limits Charter Schools, even if parents want them.
• Mandates block successful reading programs. Some schools set up roadblocks from teachers using phonics which many teachers prefer as the best performing reading program available (one study showed a 80%+ improvement in the United Kingdom).
• Mandates can put student safety at risk. Portland had a successful model of having police officers participate in school security, but recently were banned from schools by the Portland School Superintendent, thus depriving these schools of their own choice and their own safety. One Portland area school had to shut down for a week after unruly students overwhelmed school staff.
If the State truly wishes to help the most students in need, it should provide maximum flexibility and local control for schools to choose what options fit them best. We support idea sot improve student health, just not at the expense of local decision making and actual results.