DC schools to have specific menstrual health education standards

The OSSE announces menstrual health education standards for all DC public schools

WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia says it will become the first jurisdiction in the nation to require specific menstrual health education standards in all its public schools.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced earlier in the year that the new Menstrual Health Education Standards would take effect in the 2023-24 school year and would apply to all DC Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter school students.

The school district said that after collaborating with governmental and non-governmental partners on best practices and model standards for menstrual education, the OSSE submitted its draft standards to the State Board of Education (SBOE) and opened them up for public comment.

In March, the SBOE approved the new standards and began implementing efforts.

The approved education standards are categorized by grade, allowing for age- and grade-appropriate learning, the district said.

“These standards provide a clear, skill-based, and age-appropriate approach to this essential health topic and renew the District’s commitment to comprehensive health education,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. The program educates all students, regardless of gender, from upper elementary through 12th grade.

Upper elementary grades will receive a basic understanding of menstrual cycles and the physical and emotional changes that come with them, according to the school district. The standards will ensure healthy communication with trusted adults and peers while also addressing difficulties with period product accessibility. Grades six through eight will learn more details about menstrual cycles, discuss personal decision-making, and address social period stigmas. Grades nine through 12 will learn about period irregularities, the management of personal period health, and the inequities of product accessibility.

“Part of making sure our students have what they need to be healthy and happy is making sure they have access to resources, products, and accurate information about their health and development,” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. The act requires strategies to improve student access not only to menstrual health education but also physical access to period products.

On May 30, the OSSE kicked off the program with Menstrual Health Education Day. The day included trainings to bring awareness to school leaders, health education teachers, and school operations staff—these trainings were meant to ensure easy access to proper health education and products for students while at school.

State Superintendent Grant said, “The new Menstrual Health Education Standards also aim to empower our students to become active participants in their own health while maintaining dignity and respect for fellow students as they grow and develop.”

To learn more about the Menstrual Health Education Standards, visit OSSE’s website.

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