When it's that time of the month and you don't have a tampon or a pad, all hell may break loose as any woman, trans man, or fan of Orange Is the New Black can attest. New York City Council members passed groundbreaking legislation Tuesday, which will make the city first in the nation to provide free menstrual hygiene products in public schools, shelters, and correctional facilities, the council announced.
The new provision comes as states across the country are eliminating sales tax on menstrual products, which are a basic necessity and should never have been taxed in the first place. American Medical Association president Dr. David O. Barbe issued a statement that called taxing menstrual products "a regressive penalty."
While New York State is close to removing the tampon tax entirely, the city went a step further, seeking to provide free menstrual products in certain settings. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito praised the legislation. “Whether it’s in public schools, shelters, or even our city jails, giving women access to these products is a no-brainer, and long overdue,” she said in a press statement, listing the different settings in which products would be provided.
Tampons and pads can sell for more than $10 a box at local bodegas, making them unaffordable for many New York City public school students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch. People in homeless shelters may be equally unable to afford tampons and pads.
Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who worked on the legislation also expressed her support, saying, "This package makes our City a more fair place." She said the city was "setting a standard for equality and access for the rest of the country to follow."
Out City Council member and New York City Education Committee chairman Daniel Dromm, who recently sponsored legislation that would make all New York City single-stall bathrooms gender-neutral, likewise expressed his support. "The provision of free feminine hygiene products in public schools is an important service to students who would otherwise not be able to afford them," he said.
Product dispensers are set to be installed this fall.