Menstrual Management in Schools: Explore the Issue with ACTF Resources
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week launched a government program that will provide menstrual products to the state’s public primary, secondary and specialist schools. The Summer’s Day Teaching Toolkit will support teachers in exploring this topical issue with Year 5-8 students.
Summer’s Day is a short film that follow’s 11-year old Summer’s awkward transition into a teenager. Without a mother to guide her, Summer navigates her first period and her body image troubles with the help of her best friend Mackenzie. The Summer's Day short film can be downloaded from the ACTF Shop.
The Summer’s Day Teaching Toolkit explores the content and themes in the film, including menstruation, puberty and body image. The content relates largely to the Health and Physical Education curriculum, and also links to English, Media Arts and the General Capabilities. Learning tasks relate to current issues, including the following task on ‘period poverty’ and the provision of menstrual products in schools:
TASK: Managing periods at school
After hurriedly reading the instructions, Summer uses a pad for the first time at school and then rushes back to class. She hasn’t positioned the pad properly, and blood leaks onto her school dress during class. Luckily her best friend Mackenzie is there to help her: she wraps a jumper around Summer’s waist and rushes her to the school toilets.
In this clip, Summer misses class time twice because of menstrual management. If her family was unable to afford menstrual products – a reality for some families – the impact on Summer’s learning would be even greater. ‘Period poverty’ leaves some girls improvising menstrual products every month, or routinely missing school because they aren’t adequately prepared.
Recent local and international campaigns have called for menstrual products to be made freely available in school bathrooms. This would enable students to manage their periods at school with confidence and dignity, regardless of their family’s financial situation. Doing so would also help us become more open, communicative and positive about menstruation, and break down the stigma surrounding it.
After discussing period poverty as a class, have students write a persuasive letter to their federal, state or territory education or health minister, calling on them to provide free menstrual products in school bathrooms. To inform their reasoning, students could research Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ pledge to supply disposable menstrual products in government schools from 2019.