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Home / US / Student Spurs Brookline, Mass., Offers Free Tampons and Pads in Public Buildings: NPR

Student Spurs Brookline, Mass., Offers Free Tampons and Pads in Public Buildings: NPR



Sarah Groustra, a graduate of Brookline High School, wrote a column in the school paper last year about the stigma of the period. It led to a vote by Brookline to offer free pads and tampons in all urban toilets.

Jesse Costa / WBUR


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Jesse Costa / WBUR

Sarah Groustra, a graduate of Brookline High School, wrote a column in the school paper last year about the stigma of the period. It led to a vote by Brookline to offer free pads and tampons in all urban toilets.

Jesse Costa / WBUR

If you go into a public bathroom, expect it to be filled with toilet paper, hand soap and paper towels or a hand dryer.

But tampons and pads?

Brookline, Mass., Wants to make menstrual items as routine as these other basic bathroom staples, and was voted the first US community to offer free tampons and sanitary napkins in all urban toilets in May. In the town hall or in libraries and the leisure center. The schools are expected to follow suit.

Sarah Groustra is the one who made sure everything started. Last year, the then senior at the Brookline High School newspaper wrote a column about the stigma for periods.

"Everyone had these strategies on how to hide their menstrual products," she says. "When I moved to the dance class, I put tampons in my boots so I would not have to take them off during class to use the bathroom."

Groustra called for an end to "shameful menstruation." [19659008] "It should not be a brave or self-confident thing to take a tampon out of your backpack and go to the bathroom," she says.

Rebecca Stone, an elected member of the Brookline Legislature, read the column. Even for the self-described feminist it was an eye-opener.

"These were things that had to do with period shame that … just never came to my mind," she says. "And, of course, it becomes increasingly obvious what a fundamental problem this is for gender equality and the dignity of women and women."

Stone collaborated with Groustra and other Brookline students writing the proposal. Elected officials took it in and it was passed unanimously on May 23.

Brookline has until July 2021 to install dispensers and to fill them with products. The city is estimated to cost $ 40,000 in advance, and the products cost about $ 7,500 a year – which Stone regards as a drop in Brookline's annual budget of more than $ 300 million.

But it's worth it, say proponents Finish the stigma – and the burden – for those who have periods.

"In the United States, girls learn very early that this is their problem," says Stone. "You are expected to keep it from other people, to be discreet, and so we put the tampons in, and when we are in trouble, we try to make friends, and we talk quietly about it, and we need it Euphemisms, and we do not impose this on others. "

Toilets in Brookline buildings contain menstrual items for all toilets – as not all individuals with one period are identified as female.

What the city does is part of Nancy Kramer's dream. She is the founder of Free the Tampons, a national organization she founded in 2013 after spending years talking about on-schedule justice.

"I told my children that I hope to change the social norm before I die, so that these menstrual bleeds are freely accessible in most public restrooms," she says, equating tampons and pads with other toiletries.

"My position was that tampons and pads match toilet paper," she says. "And wherever there is toilet paper, tampons and pads should be."

There are efforts at Brookline throughout Massachusetts and across the country.

Boston's city council has on Wednesday instituted a hearing on Menstrual Stopping Products in public schools, libraries, and other urban buildings. Students from a school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, helped launch a pilot program to help students get tampons and pads in the school bathrooms.

California, Illinois and New York have passed state laws requiring menstrual products at many public schools.

Other laws, such as those of New York City, include prisons and homeless shelters – where people may not be able to afford tampons and sanitary towels.

In Massachusetts, the State House is pending a law to provide free menstrual products in schools, prisons, prisons and shelters. Sponsors.

Sasha Goodfriend, President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women, says the Massachusetts bill focuses on access for the most marginalized population. But it is also about shaming the shame by periods.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to solve this stigma and these barriers to something natural and truly be able to be our full authentic self in all spaces." She says. "And that means recognizing that for many of us, we have been menstruating for about a week, every month, for decades."

For Brookline's Stone, this is more than just an economic problem – it's a public hygiene problem. Almost all the men she spoke to understood that, she says. Instead, it was some women who felt uncomfortable.

"Some women said," I do not understand why that's a big deal. I've been wondering why not everyone can do it. "She says.

Groustra, who's talking in Brookline, now a student at Kenyon College, Ohio, says it's not just about having the tampon there when you need it, it's about confirming that periods occur, a signal of acceptance from your hometown

"By having the community or common room look after you in this way," she says, she sends the message that "we understand that this is something that is happening, and we want to be there for you and this provide for you. "


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