AUSTIN, Texas — According to a recent national survey by the Always brand of feminine care products, one in five girls leave school early or miss school entirely because of a lack of access to tampons or pads.

  • 1 in 5 girls leave school early due to lack of access to tampons or pads
  • Austin Diaper Bank runs Bright Spot Program

The Austin Diaper Bank launched the Bright Spot program Friday in hopes of creating equal opportunities for girls pursuing education. The organization is donating feminine hygiene products to Lanier High School and Burnet Middle School. They anticipate helping a combined 400 girls a month.

Previously, teachers would have to purchase period products for their students.

“We are a basic needs organization and our goal is to provide those products free of charge for families and period supplies fall right into that. We want to make sure that girls have access to the supplies that they need so they can be healthy, strong, and go to school every day,” said Holly McDaniel, executive director of Austin Diaper Bank.

Austin educators said families not being able to afford period products can affect student attendance. Kelly Hickman, the child care program manager for Lanier High School, works with the child development center and works to ensure the safety and supervision of the children of the school’s teen parents, as well as coordinating teen parent education.

“I’ve had students say they just didn’t come to school, they couldn’t come because they felt uncomfortable, maybe they didn’t know where to go to ask. People who felt like they needed a change of clothes and they don’t have to that,” Hickman said.

Austin Diaper Bank also donates feminine hygiene products to its more than 30 community partners, including Asian Family Support Services of Austin. AFSSA serves about 200 survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking a year.

Texas Rep. Donna Howard, who represents House District 48 and attended the launch Friday morning, is addressing the issue at the state Legislature. She once again filed a bill this legislative session to make sure period products are tax-free in Texas.

“It allows you to hopefully not have to make the choice between whether or not you’re going to get the feminine hygiene products and food. We know that this something that is a challenge for those of limited means, so it really is an issue of equity,” Howard said.