Kiera Porteous thought she had a terrific idea for her Social Justice 12 assignment.
The 17-year-old student at Saanich’s Spectrum Community School was supposed to come up with a plan to tackle some form of societal inequity.
Her proposal: A food drive-style tampon collection for women who can’t afford them…
“I thought it would be a great awareness campaign,” Porteous says of her project, in which members of the school community are being asked to donate feminine hygiene products for the Mustard Seed Food Bank.
Yes, she knew the subject matter would make some people uncomfortable, which meant she would have to be careful in how she got her message out. “I knew there would be restrictions,” she says. “I was hoping if I approached it properly, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.”
School authorities approved a poster soliciting donations, but restricted it to the girls’ washroom. On Monday, Porteous was dismayed when word of her campaign was excluded from the morning announcements over the public address system. Instead, the notice was included on the school’s website, where relatively few students go for information.
The muted approach made her feel that her positive campaign had been turned negative. “Unfortunately, there’s a taboo with this kind of thing.”
Check out the rest of the article for the Principal’s take (good project but need to protect students’ boundaries) as well as Kiera’s plan to look for community support where school support has been lacking. This one got me all riled up. It’s ridiculous that a school would encourage Social Justice students to create a project, but then not support projects that might make some people uncomfortable. We’re not even talking about drugs or sex or violence: we’re talking about tampons – something most girls in that school probably use. It’s crazy that we’re in a society that’s so period-phobic we can’t allow teenagers to think about the fact that women in poverty have periods.
But I’m glad the school is still collecting the tampons, so I will be picking up a couple boxes and mailing them over today. I’ll also be making a donation to Vancouver-based company Lunapads’ Pads4Girls program, which provides reusable pads for girls in developing nations so they can continue to attend school while on their periods.