NYC installs free pads, tampons dispensers in Queens, Bronx public schools: ‘Unprecedented, impactful’

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland pushes for greater access to feminine hygiene products citywide.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland pushes for greater access to feminine hygiene products citywide.

The New York City Department of Education has announced the launch of a groundbreaking initiative to outfit public school restrooms with dispensers of free feminine hygiene products.

The unprecedented program was an initiative of Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland alongside Congresswoman Grace Meng and Education Chair Daniel Dromm in an effort to reduce health risks, increase access to essential feminine care for low-income girls, and promote dignity and respect for girls’ menstruation.

The installation of free dispensers in 25 public middle schools and high schools in Queens and the Bronx builds upon a pilot Ferreras-Copeland launched in September 2015 at the High School for Arts and Business, a high school in the Queens area she represents. Attendance at the school increased from 90 percent to 92.4 percent since the installation of the free dispensers and fewer girls asked to be excused from their classes throughout the day.

Formerly the director of a beacon program in Corona, Queens, the councilwoman noticed girls skipping their after-school classes to go home because they were too embarrassed to ask for pads or had already stained their clothes.

“Every young person should have their essential needs met in order to do well in chool. Feminine hygiene products are as essential as toilet paper, helping women prevent health risks and fulfill their daily activities uninterrupted by nature. Providing young women with pads and tampons in schools will help them stay focused on their learning and sends a message about value and respect for their bodies. No young woman should face losing class time because she is too embarrassed to ask for, can’t afford or simply cannot access feminine hygiene products. Today, I am proud to be a New Yorker and live in the city that’s leading this effort to bring greater access to essential feminine care products for young women,” said Ferreras-Copeland.

This avant-garde program, the only government initiative of its kind in the nation, will provide tampons and sanitary napkins for free to 11,600 girls in school districts 9 in the Bronx and 24 in Queens, some of the most impoverished areas of the city. DOE estimates initial costs for the installation and supplies to be approximately $160,000.

In addition to dispensers, DOE will provide menstrual education in health classes and supplemental information on posters, brochures, and/or dedicated assemblies for families.

DOE will also work closely with the principals of participating schools to solicit their feedback and have “trusted teachers” to whom students can speak if they have questions.

Schools in districts 9 and 24, set to have dispensers in the girls bathrooms by the end of the month, include:

School District 9
I.S. 117 Joseph H. Wade
Bronx Collegiate Academy
Urban Science Academy
DreamYard Preparatory School
New Directions Secondary School
Bronx High School of Business
Bronx High School for Medical Science
Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications
Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice
Frederick Douglass Academy III Secondary School
Bronx Leadership Academy High School
Claremont International HS

School District 24
I.S. 5 – The Walter Crowley Intermediate School
I.S. 061 Leonardo Da Vinci
I.S. 077
I.S. 125 Thom J. McCann Woodside
Academy of Finance and Enterprise
High School of Applied Communication
Pan American International High School
Bard High School Early College Queens
Corona Arts and Sciences Academy
Newtown High School
Grover Cleveland High School
High School for Arts and Business
Queens Vocational and Technical High School

“This is one of the most impactful decisions any city government has made historically for young women. By providing a basic necessity to students, it sends the message that female students should not have to suffer embarrassment or discomfort just because of a natural process, and that they should feel that they have the city’s support to be their best selves in school!” said activist and musician Kiran Gandhi who made headlines when she free-bled during her run in the London Marathon last year.

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