Menstruation emergencies call for tampons in every bathroom

The other day in the bathroom I noticed a tampon wedged in between the wall and stall divider. At first I was just thinking that it was just another wacky girls bathroom sighting to add to my list.

Then I realized it could have been a random act of kindness from some girl who knew how one could have gotten caught in a sticky situation and needed to be blessed by the tampon angel.

In general, the tampon exchanges I’ve witnessed here or partaken in have been quiet, quick, and huddled in front of a friend’s locker.

Why have the people with periods here needed to develop a sneaky underground network to provide necessities for each other?

Eighty six percent of people with periods will start in public without the supplies they need according to Free the Tampon, a national campaign trying to make feminine products freely accessible in every restroom. Just now, in my fourth year of school here, I realized how much it seems like a public high school should have hygiene products readily available in bathrooms.

When you look online to understand the provisions provided in most bathrooms, most articles are simply complaints about broken machines, or about only having a few dispensers in a building instead of in every single bathroom. This tells me our school is pretty behind the times.

A PVPA student said that their bathrooms were fully supplied, but students from Belchertown and South Hadley high schools told me they have the same resources we do, with nothing in the regular bathrooms, but tampons and pads you can get from the nurse.

Here at ARHS we have no tampons or pads in any bathroom, including staff bathrooms. When I raised the issue with classmates I was asked why the products in the nurse’s office weren’t good enough.

I know it may be hard to imagine if you have never had a period, but when one is surprised with their period, it’s a situation where you have to act fast.

Even if you should have known to be prepared but something goes wrong along the way, it’s too late, you are  stuck. Walking to the nurse’s office in the very front of the school is simply not a viable option most of the time and it’s time-consuming.

I am aware there are ways this could be a money problem for the school. The cheapest dispenser I could find online was $200, and the school would have to get one for each bathroom that needed one and also keep them stocked.

Nancy Kramer, founder of Free the Tampons, said the cost of stocking restrooms at a school or business with sanitary supplies works out to $4.67 per woman for a whole year.

Of all things money could be spent on here, it would be ridiculous to not prioritize a necessity for half the school. Also there may be ways to have baskets with supplies in them, as to not have to buy the dispensers themselves.

I understand that when men who have never experienced these things are in positions of power, the discussion of something like tampons in bathrooms may not even be remotely on their radar. When asked, Mr. Jackson told me the issue had never been brought up with him.

However, the solution to problems like this, where a discomfort in just talking about an issue leaves it forgotten by those it doesn’t directly affect, is for these people in power to step up and have a little empathy. Of course, those of us who are actively aware cannot let them forget, and need to keep loudly talking about issues like this.

We can’t let things that majorly affect us slide just because it’s awkward or uncomfortable to talk about.

Periods happen. We need tampons and pads in the bathrooms, and we need to work together now to make that dream a reality.