This Queens Lawmaker Has An Excellent Idea For Making Tampons Free For Teenagers

tamponQueens city councilwoman Julissa Ferreras deserves a standing ovation today for her new plan to make tampons free in high school bathrooms.

Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, pads and tampons are not luxury items. They are basic essentials. Most women menstruate, and that means that approximately once a month, they’re going to need those supplies. And tampons can be expensive, especially for teenagers.

According to Gothamist, Ferreras says she got the idea to make feminine hygiene products free for high school girls when she saw some girls skipping class for want of them.

“When I worked at the Beacon Program in Corona, young girls would skip class because they preferred that to asking staff for pads or risk staining their clothes,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “In a city where we hand out free condoms, we should be making essential feminine hygiene products more affordable and accessible. It’s a matter of avoiding health risks, affordability and women’s equality.”

A lack of feminine hygiene products should not be keeping kids from class. And high school kids are generally pretty easily embarrassed in addition to being new to menstruation, so they don’t always know what to do when surprised by a sudden onset period in the middle of class. I remember being a particularly nervous high school student, and back in the day I was caught unprepared many times. My school did not have such products for sale in the bathrooms. I think we had to go ask someone at the dean’s office. These days I’d happily go ask the dean’s office or one of my friends for assistance, but at 14 I pretty much just counted on wearing black pants. (Luckily I was kind of goth at the time, so I was basically always wearing black.) Being able to get feminine hygiene products for free out of the bathroom would have made things a lot easier, and it would probably be a big relief to a lot of students in schools now.

Ferreras also is encouraging the state of New York to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax in an attempt to make them cheaper for all women. First-Aid products like bandages, pain relievers, sunscreen, and sterile cotton balls are already tax exempt in New York.

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