Student-Led Club Raises Awareness of Stigma About Menstruation

A student-led “period club” at Mount Madonna School (MMS) recently collected donations of feminine hygiene products from MMS students, faculty and staff to give to Community Solutions, a south Santa Clara County-based nonprofit that helps children, teens, adults and families who are facing times of crisis such as mental health challenges, sexual assault and domestic violence. 

The MMS high school club — “That’s On Period Project” — exists to support students who have periods and to reduce the stigma about menstruation. 

“When dropping off the items, we were told that these items are essential for many of their clients who are women and teen girls fleeing from dangerous or unhealthy living situations and come seeking shelter and services with no personal items,’ said club leader and sophomore student Sophia Manzur. “Although the donation may be small, it makes a big difference in Community Solutions’ ability to meet the needs of every client they serve.” 

Many girls struggle with shame and humiliation surrounding their periods, and this can contribute to depression, anxiety, negative body image and bullying situations in school settings. The That’s On Period Project began in 2020 after Manzur had a conversation with her sister Alyssa about the stigma of menstruation and how they could help to change it. The sisters talked with their friends at school and proposed the club to their teachers.

“For years I’ve been told that periods are something that women are supposed to hide,” Manzur commented. “Society has cultivated such negative ideas around menstruation that have caused many women to feel as though it is unsafe to acknowledge their period.” 

One of the biggest tasks the club accomplished last school year was working with administration to make sure there is always a free supply of period products in all the upper campus bathrooms. 

“Many schools do not provide menstrual hygiene products in the bathrooms which ultimately causes young women to skip school, or use alternative methods such as socks and toilet paper,” said Manzur. 

The club’s faculty advisor, Sara Sobkoviak, said that the club is entirely student run. 

“I’m there for support if they need it, but so far, they haven’t needed me,” said Sobkoviak. “They do it all themselves and come up with their own ideas. They are doing the important work of breaking those ignorant stigmas surrounding periods.” 

Manzur said that she hopes to bring greater awareness to a social justice issue that has suppressed women for years: 

“I want the generations of the future to longer perceive menstruation as something ‘taboo,’ and instead feel empowered and confident in themselves and their bodies.” 

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Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications, [email protected]mountmadonnaschool.org

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.