The Emotional Need for Free Feminine Hygiene Products in Schools

Special Blog Contribution by: Abby Corrao

The bell rings and you become frantic. You can’t be late to class on the day of your math test. You feel panic as your whole body gets hot. In between classes, you realize you got your period, but do not have a pad or tampon. There aren’t any in the bathroom. The clock is ticking, and it is too late to ask the nurse. Desperate to not ruin another pair of underwear, you create a makeshift toilet paper ‘pad’. It’s not ideal, and you experience a diaper-like feeling. As you walk out of the bathroom, already at least five minutes late to the math test, you are humiliated. When the teacher asks why you were late, you make up an excuse, too embarrassed to tell the truth. You take your seat and start the test at least ten minutes later than the rest of the class. You don’t have time to finish – you know you, an A student, are starting with at least a B. You are infuriated. The bell rings, you leave the classroom on the verge of tears, all because you didn’t have a pad or tampon.Sign placard with the label Feminine Products Available Here

The lack of feminine hygiene products in high schools is a real issue, both socially and physically. For teenage girls, the idea of being unprepared for their period is daunting. Not only does it distract from in class lectures and assessments, it creates a social barrier that prevents young women from wanting to attend school. This is especially true for teenage girls of low-income or homeless families. When it is difficult to afford clothes or food, a feminine hygiene product may seem a less of a necessity.  But, a teenage girl, or any woman, should not have to make the choice between a tampon and a t-shirt.

Woman pointing to the text 'free' on a sanitary napkin dispenser in a bathroom

Regardless of economic status, a teenage girl should not have to face the emotional trauma that being unprepared for a period can cause. Schools have no problem providing students with toilet paper, and thus should have no issue with giving students access to free menstrual hygiene products. New York Council Member and chair of the finance committee, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, has even stated, “No-one has ever interrogated me over the City’s toilet paper budget”.

First hand, I know how stressful high school can be; worrying about social status, problems with friends and difficulty in classes. But the last thing a girl should worry about is where she can find a pad or tampon. It is time to bring light to the issue of the lack of feminine hygiene products in high schools. It is time to ask administrators if they are comfortable sacrificing half of the student body’s education because of a failure to recognize menstruation. At an already emotionally fragile age, it is important that young women are able to have an equal opportunity to enjoy high school, instead of worrying about their periods.

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