Cordelia Longo is a 14-year-old with a feminist agenda…how great does that sound? Longo is an 8th grader at Islander Middle School in Mercer Island, Washington, who was inspired to create a petition after finding the tampon and pad dispenser in her school’s bathrooms empty.
Longo found it ridiculous that women have to pay at the machines provided in the bathrooms if they forget their own hygiene products – and if you do happen to have change on you, most of the time the dispensers are empty. This happened to Longo too many times at her middle school, which left her feeling embarrassed, discouraged, and angry.
At her wits end, Longo asked herself why she should have to pay for products that should be provided to her for free? Her logic behind this is that menstruating is a biological process that females cannot control, just like going to the bathroom. If toilet paper is provided for free, why shouldn’t feminine hygiene products? The school provides free tampons and pads in the locker rooms and at the nurse’s office, but these resources are not well known.
Longo drafted a petition that demanded for pads and tampons to be provided for free in the bathrooms at her school. The petition gained 100 signatures. She also wrote a letter to administration that went along with the petition. Here is an excerpt from it:
“Why are tissues and toilet paper provided free at school, but not sanitary pads and tampons? As toilet paper and tissue are used for normal bodily functions, sanitary pads and tampons are also necessary to address normal bodily functions that happen naturally. The only difference is that only girls need pads. Girls do not choose to have periods. So girls are being penalized and made to pay for a bodily function they cannot control.”
While the petition and letter were being reviewed, Longo decided to take the issue into her own hands, and use her own money to stock the bathrooms with baskets of feminine hygiene products. The baskets also contained handwritten, positive notes.
“I just didn’t want any other girls to experience [what I experienced]. I just wanted to make people’s lives better–girls’ lives easier,” said Longo.
Longo says that her social justice class inspired her to take action. In this class she learned about oppression, race, and gender identity. She also avidly kept up with the election, and found inspiration in the life and actions of Hillary Clinton.
Due to Cordelia’s actions, the school district immediately installed tampon and pad dispensers in the bathrooms that do not require payment. Not only did they do this for Islander Middle School, but for the local high school as well.
“I feel like if we all get together, all of the people who are in favor of social justice and equal access to education, I feel hopeful. I feel satisfied that I created this petition and wrote this letter and made a difference in our school,” Longo said.
Sign Up For Our Newsletter