Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students returned from spring break this week to a find a new safety precaution in place: mandatory clear backpacks.
To many students, the move — implemented after a shooter killed 17 people on their campus in February — fails to address the real root cause of gun violence: a lack of gun control.
“They’re just an illusion of security,” senior Kyra Parrow said, blasting the backpacks.
“My new backpack is almost as transparent as the NRA’s agenda,” student Lauren Hogg mocked on Twitter. “I feel sooo safe now.”
My new backpack is almost as transparent as the NRA’s agenda.
I feel sooo safe now.
— Lauren Hogg (@lauren_hoggs) April 2, 2018
(Of course, policies like this are nothing new to students in primarily black and brown schools.)
There’s one aspect about the clear backpacks, however, that might do some actual good, according to some students.
The see-through backpacks may shine a light on the fact that, yes, many students need to bring menstrual hygiene products like tampons or sanitary pads to school. And no one should feel ashamed for doing so.
“I remember the humiliation I felt if I started my period unexpectedly and had to whisper to classmates asking for a pad,” Ayana Lage recently wrote for Bustle. “I eventually started going to the nurse’s office instead of telling people I was menstruating.”
The stigma is real. But hopefully not for much longer at Stoneman Douglas.
“The only positive about these backpacks is that maybe, hopefully, the stigma around periods will be removed,” wrote student Delaney Tarr. “Also, that Cameron now knows how expensive tampons are.”
The only positive about these backpacks is that maybe, hopefully, the stigma around periods will be removed. Also, that Cameron now knows how expensive tampons are.
— Delaney Tarr (@delaneytarr) April 3, 2018
The “Cameron” that Tarr is referring to is her classmate Cameron Kasky.
On April 3, Kasky shared a photo of himself carrying a clear backpack stocked with tampons. The gesture was Kasky’s way of standing in solidarity with those who may feel embarrassed that now would be revealing when they needed to use the products to their classmates.
His smiling photo — captioned simply with #MSDStrong — quickly went viral. As of publication, Kasky’s pic garnered over 60,000 likes and nearly 10,000 retweets.
“Every damn time I think I can’t love these young people more than I do, they do something to leave me even more in awe,” Twitter user Kathleen Smith wrote.
“Yass Cameron,” one classmate replied to Kasky’s photo. “If only I had the confidence to do that.” Kasky responded, “Here for you if you need anything… tampons and beyond.”
And as it turned out, Kasky did learn about how expensive tampons are, just as Tarr had hoped.
I mean, seriously — for those of us who don’t use menstrual hygiene products, they really can get pricey. It doesn’t help that they’re often taxed as though they’re a luxury item — and not a basic necessity — too.
According to California assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, folks in her state who get periods spend, on average, $84 a year on tampons and pads. For those working hard just to make ends meet, that’s a costly burden.
In a follow-up tweet, Kasky explained purchasing tampons was certainly an eye-opening experience. “This stuff is expensive,” he wrote. “Steps must be taken to make these health products easier to access.”
To those with questions about my tampon backpack-
I only got lights. I didn’t know. Getting supers for tomorrow.
Sizes, pricing… I’m learning new things about women’s health right now. This stuff is expensive. Steps must be taken to make these health products easier to access
— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) April 3, 2018
Things may seem scary nowadays — for a million different reasons.
But if the articulate, determined, big-hearted teens in Parkland, Florida are any indication, the future looks surprisingly bright.
“It started with gun control,” Lage wrote for Bustle. “But students have made powerful statements about media representation and now period stigma. It’s clear that these kids are smarter and more sensitive to current events than some adults.”