Menstrual products available in men’s rooms

Some students vandalize dispensers in response


Micah Shulman

Menstrual product dispensers that have been torn down by students are stored in Glenbrook North’s Buildings and Grounds Hub. Multiple dispensers have been taken off of bathroom walls and are starting to be put back up with stronger anchors.

When senior Fiona Yin first heard about the installation of menstrual product dispensers in the men’s restrooms, she was impressed that steps were being taken to be more inclusive to students.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting it,” said Yin. “I was a little bit surprised.”

Starting at the beginning of this year, menstrual product dispensers were made available in the men’s restrooms containing free pads and tampons.

This change is mandated by state law, said Lauren Bonner, associate principal for administrative services. 

The Illinois law requires free menstrual products in bathrooms of every school building that are open for student use in grades four through 12 during the regular school day.

“We want to fulfill that obligation, obviously, and meet the needs of any of our students who have this need,” Bonner said.

In accordance with district policy, students are allowed to use the restroom corresponding to their consistently expressed gender identity.

Since the dispensers were installed, some students have torn them down, kicked them, emptied the products, taken pictures or videos of the vandalism and posted the pictures or videos on social media.

“I think a lot of those people just don’t understand and haven’t been exposed to that many people with different identities,” Yin said.

According to Bonner, sometimes custodians find the torn-down dispensers while cleaning at night, bring them to the school’s Buildings and Grounds Hub and a plan is established for reinstalling them.

Theft and destruction of property, such as emptying or tearing down the dispensers, is considered misconduct and violates district policy. Students who take pictures or videos of the dispensers or use cell phones in any way in a restroom violate the district’s Wireless Communication Devices Policy.

Consequences for vandalizing dispensers and taking pictures or videos in the restrooms could range from restricted study halls, Saturday detention or in-school suspension, said William Eike, assistant principal dean of students.

Students will also be responsible for covering costs to repair and buy new dispensers, and for the labor of putting them up, Eike said.

According to Yin, she thinks it is useful to have the dispensers in the men’s restrooms.

“I think while GBN has probably a majority [cisgender] student population, I think there are a growing number of students who identify not with the gender that they were assigned to at birth,” said Yin. “So, I think it’s very important that we all have those resources, because after all it’s a health product and ultimately you do need it to go about your day.”