School-Age Girls Shouldn’t Have to Worry about Menstrual Products

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Being a young woman is not easy in the United States. Our culture sexualizes girls even before they reach puberty. We also offer almost no accommodations to young women who experience menarche (their first period). For many, the arrival of their first menstruation is marked by pain, confusion, and embarrassment. As though dealing with the physical symptoms of a monthly cycle isn’t hard enough, many girls also experience financial pressure because of their natural bodily functions.

Feminine hygiene products such as disposable pads, tampons, and silicone menstrual cups are expensive. While packages of pads and tampons are often only five or ten dollars, a young woman may go through multiple packages each month. If her family already lives on a shoestring budget, affording menstrual products could prove impossible.

Young women shouldn’t have to avoid school, depend on toilet paper or paper towels to catch their menstrual blood, or beg supplies from their peers or the school nurse. Anyone menstruating should have access to sanitation products that allow them to continue their life and their education without any additional inconvenience or embarrassment.

Unfortunately, our school systems and governments are still primarily designed for the convenience of men, who rarely stop to think about the realities of living as a young woman in middle or high school. However, that does seem to be changing. New York City is currently leading the way in a revolution of human decency. The public schools in New York City now provide menstruating people with sanitation products at school, and all schools across the state of New York are also on board.

That free access for basic menstrual supplies also extends to prisons and homeless shelters. That means that struggling families will not need to worry about whether they can afford products to allow their child to attend school. In theory, any women in federal detention centers and jails also have the right to free sanitation products.

On the one hand, it is tragic that the income and wealth discrepancy in this country has reached a point that access to sanitation for menstruation could prohibit young women from continuing their education, much as it does in undeveloped nation. On the other, if we can’t immediately correct the social discrepancy, it is decent and compassionate that some places are at least addressing this symptom of a l social disease.

Lawmakers in other states are considering similar laws, while ten states have lifted the sales tax on these items. While that may be a small step in the right direction, a few cents worth of tax probably wasn’t

Young women and girls shouldn’t have to worry about how the natural biological processes of their body could prevent them from participating in school. Here at lady Bud, we recognize that menstrual products are a basic life necessity for those experiencing a monthly cycle. We applaud New York for taking an important step to improve educational access and the health of the students within the district. Hopefully, other school districts, as well as state and federal governments, will follow the lead that New York has provided.