Brown University is welcoming students back this school year by putting free tampons in dozens of bathrooms, including those for men.
The decision reflects the view, embraced by Brown’s student government, that not all who menstruate are women. After all, a biological woman could declare herself to be man and start using the men’s restroom, while continuing to menstruate like usual. (RELATED: UCLA Paper Apologizes For Saying Women Menstruate)
“We wanted to set a tone of trans-inclusivity, and not forget that they’re an important part of the population,” student body president Viet Nguyen told Newsweek. “I’d be naïve to say there won’t be push back. I’ve had questions about why we’re implementing this in male bathrooms as well. It’s an initial confusion, but people generally understand when we explain it.”
Several colleges or K-12 systems around the country have started providing free tampons, arguing they are necessities rather than luxuries and therefore students shouldn’t be expected to pay for them. In many states activists have campaigned, sometimes successfully, to repeal sales taxes on tampons, on the grounds it is sexist to class them as a “luxury” good in this manner.
Nguyen himself compared tampons to toilet paper, which is also provided for free in almost every bathroom.
The tampons are currently financed by Brown’s student government, which approved the project after a campaign by Nguyen. Nguyen says he hopes Brown itself will eventually step up and supply the tampons itself.
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