Aspiring lawyers in Texas now have the 19th-century privilege of bringing tampons and pads to their bar exam, which is administered over several hours-long sessions. The Texas Board of Law Examiners has retracted its ban on feminine hygiene products after discrimination complaints. Executive Director Susan Henricks said the ban was meant to ensure a fair exam, given concerns about smuggled study materials and smartphones. She also said products were provided. But at her exam last summer, Sarah Riffel could find only super-absorbent tampons, which aren't suitable for everyone, per the Texas Tribune. "A tampon that is too large for a particular user may cause pain or discomfort—and, in fact, may be unusable. Even worse, it may make the applicant susceptible to toxic shock," reads a July 20 letter sent to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, signed by hundreds of lawyers and students.
Texas Supreme Court justices Brett Busby and Eva Guzman also pushed to overturn the ban, while the National Conference of Bar Examiners came out against prohibitions, per the Tribune. The board then conceded. Exam administrators "understand the need for access to feminine hygiene products" and "know that the overwhelming majority of applicants have no design or intention to compromise the integrity of the examination," Henricks said. She added tampons and pads would be permitted in clear plastic bags at an in-person exam set for September. (Test takers will write in hotel rooms with the doors open to proctors.) It's unclear if the same policy will apply to a large, single-room exam tentatively scheduled for February. Officials have also clarified that there is no ban on the products at bar exams in West Virginia and Arizona, per the ABA Journal. (Read more bar exam stories.)