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NYC councilwoman is working to #freethetampon for female high school students

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

Julissa Ferreras-Copeland is leading the charge toward free tampons for teen girls

Accessing something as simple, and medically necessary, as tampons or pads should be easy for women in the United States.

But one New York City councilwoman proves it's not that easy — and she's working to make that time of the month easier for teens in NYC public schools with free tampon machines in schools.

Julissa Ferreras-Copeland unveiled the first at the High School for Arts and Business in Queens on Tuesday. For the entire school year, the machine will dispense Tampax tampons and Maxithins sanitary napkins, all for the affordable price of free.

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The reason is simple: Not everyone can afford feminine hygiene products and low-to-no access can affect both a teen's health and education.

“I was the director of an after-school program in Queens, New York, and I came to learn that young girls would skip out and go home because they were on their periods. Sometimes it was due to the discomfort, but other times they’d run out of pads and were too embarrassed to ask a teacher or nurse," Ferreras-Copeland told Yahoo Health. "They preferred to lose learning time in order to save face.” 

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Plenty of young women will benefit, given that over half of the student body at the Queens school is female. Plus, have you ever tried to actually buy a tampon out of one of those machines? I've probably lost $7,000 in quarters trying to extract one from an inevitably broken machine.

Many NYC schools already give out free condoms, so free sanitary products is a no-brainer. "Just like the schools order toilet paper, they should be ordering these supplies," she added to New York Magazine. The free machine will also come with education for both female and male students to help demystify menstruation and open up a dialogue about it.

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Next up for Ferreras-Copeland: She plans to lobby the New York state government to declare feminine hygiene products as medically necessary which — like condoms, prescription drugs and sunscreen — will make them exempt from sales tax.

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