Sept. 23, 2015 By Michael Florio
A Corona high school is the first New York City public school to provide a dispenser offering free feminine hygiene products.
The girl’s restroom at the High School for Arts and Business, located at 105-25 Horace Harding Expressway North, will have a dispenser that provides free Maxithins sanitary napkins and Tampax tampons for the entire school year.
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, along with the Department of Education and HOSPECO, an industry leader in vended feminine hygiene in North America, introduced the dispenser Tuesday.
It is the only government initiative of its kind in the United States, according to Ferreras-Copeland.
HOSPECO will be donating the items.
“Offering free menstrual care supplies as we do toilet paper and condoms is a matter of avoiding health risks, eliminating the stigma that surrounds a natural part of a women’s life, and for girls in school, not having to skip class because they got their period,” Ferreras-Copeland said.
“Feminine hygiene products allow women and girls to carry out their daily responsibilities uninterrupted and they should always be easily accessible,” she added.
Ferreras-Copeland plans to compliment the dispenser with an educational component for girls, their male peers and parents in the hopes that it will start a conversation and normalize the monthly ritual. There are currently 850 students enrolled in the High School for Arts and Business, with 56 percent of them being female.
This comes at a time when Ferreras-Copeland and the City Council are pushing to make feminine hygiene products available for free in public middle schools, high schools and other public buildings such as hospitals, parks and cultural institutions.
Ferreras-Copeland and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito are set to introduce legislation for free feminine hygiene products next month.
The Council will also lobby Albany to join Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey and eliminate sales tax on feminine hygiene products, considered a medical device by the FDA, according to Ferreras-Copeland. She said items like prescription drugs, sunscreen and condoms are exempt from tax in New York State under the premise that they are essential to a person’s health.
The school is located within Ferreras-Copeland’s district.