Entertainment And News

Texas Teacher Uses Her Own Money To Create Free 'Pad Bags' To Give To Her Students Whenever They Are Menstruating

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teacher, middle school girls, tampons and pads

A Texas middle school teacher is proving that public school educators really do go above and beyond for their students.

Kylie DeFrance, a teacher at an Austin-based charter school, explained that many of the students are economically disadvantaged and sometimes can't even afford the basic feminine products, which prompted her to try and come up with a solution.

The teacher uses her own money to buy pads and tampons to create free 'pad bags' to give to students.

DeFrance, who teaches eighth grade at a Title I charter school in east Austin, Texas, told CNN that many of her students are between the ages of 12-14, which is around the time that many girls begin experiencing their first periods.

“A lot of these scholars go home and are the parent to their siblings, and maybe can’t go to the store that day,” DeFrance told the news outlet, adding that many of her students are disadvantaged and receive free breakfast and lunch at school. “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.”

At her middle school, the administration only provides one type of pad, so DeFrance decided to use her own money and purchase more pads and tampons, calling them "pad bags," so her students could have options. However, her new proposal ended up costing her around $100 to $200 a month just to purchase feminine products.

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According to research, around 16.9 million people who menstruate live in poverty in the United States. Among those women, two-thirds said they struggled with affording menstrual products in the last year.

Reuters also found through a survey of low-income women in the United States that many were forced to use cloth, rags, tissues, toilet paper, and sometimes even diapers or paper towels taken from public bathrooms.

To help out with the cost, DeFrance set up an Amazon wishlist.

It wasn't long before DeFrance became known as the teacher for all things menstruation and her free "pad bags" that she would hand out to any student who was in need of one. However, by January 2022, DeFrance realized she could easily ask for help from people in the community and beyond.

According to KXAN, DeFrance set up an Amazon wishlist, requesting donations for more feminine products so she could set up a "menstruation station" in the girl's restroom at the middle school. It wasn't long before supporters began sending a horde of pads and tampons to DeFrance's doorstep.

"It has been four months since I posted my Amazon wishlist on here for a few boxes of pads and tampons for my scholars," she wrote in a follow-up post on her community NextDoor page after previously asking for donations. "There is not a day that goes by where I'm not thankful for this experience and for being a part of such a beautiful community."

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In an interview with People Magazine, DeFrance revealed that through her wishlist, she had received about 300 boxes of pads and 100 boxes of tampons, providing her an opportunity to supply other teachers in the school with these feminine products as well.

“I just want to make that something that they don’t have to think about or be stressed or worried about or uncomfortable,” DeFrance told KXAN. “You should be comfortable while you’re learning in school.”

DeFrance's good deed comes at a time when some states in America, most notably Florida, are putting legislation in place to prevent educators from teaching about menstruation.

In March 2023, a bill sponsored by Republican Florida state Representative Stan McClain would mandate that only children from grades sixth through 12 can learn about human sexuality topics, such as reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases. The bill would prevent menstrual topics from being discussed with any students below these grades, despite the fact that many girls would be experiencing their first periods.

DeFrance's initiative to provide free menstrual products and her dedication to addressing the needs of economically disadvantaged students directly challenges the politicians in this country who believe that there is no benefit to girls being able to learn about their own bodies. 

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.