This Teenager Scored a Win for Girls at Her School, but It Shouldn't Have to Be This Way

June 26th 2017

Almie Rose

You're a teenager in middle school, you get your period, and you need a pad or tampon — but the school's machines are either broken or MIA. What do you do?

If you're 14-year-old Cordelia Longo, you say "enough" and force the school to change.

Longo was tired of having to dig for change to buy products from machines that often didn't work. It was either that or trek around campus to find a nurse's office, a locker room, or somewhere else that had supplies.

Beyond that, Longo saw a disparity in how the boys' and girls' bathrooms were stocked: Periods happen — it's a basic, involuntary biological function — and if toilet paper is free and readily available, shouldn't tampons and pads be, too?

So, as Longo told Teen Vogue, she petitioned her school administration.

"Why are tissues and toilet paper provided free at school, but not sanitary pads and tampons?" Longo wrote in her letter to the school.

She continued:

"As toilet paper and tissue are used for normal bodily functions, sanitary pads and tampons are also necessary to address normal bodily functions that happen naturally. The only difference is that only girls need pads. Girls do not choose to have periods. So girls are being penalized and made to pay for a bodily function they cannot control."

As Longo told Teen Vogue, "you would never ask boys to walk across campus with diarrhea in their pants then go look in the locker room. Why do they charge for something that's akin to toilet paper? They don't charge for toilet paper and make them walk across campus for some secret room."

After her petition received 100 signatures from students and faculty, she scored a win: the school agreed to provide tampons and pads for free.

Girls shouldn't feel ashamed for having periods.

Unfortunately, many do. The Guardian reported in May that "at school, almost half [of female students] reported feeling ashamed to speak to their female teachers and 75 percent said they wouldn’t discuss it with their male teachers."

If girls are ashamed of having a period, then the lack of menstrual products on school campuses certainly doesn't help. It enforces the idea that menstruating is a secret thing that shouldn't be acknowledged. 


And it's even more stigmatized outside of America. The Guardian noted "90 percent of girls in rural Ghana feel ashamed during their periods, 51 percent in Ethiopia miss one to four days of school per month and 28 percent of girls don’t go to school when they have their period."