Push for Menstrual Equity: Governor Shapiro’s Bold Plan to Boost School Accessibility to Period Products

Menstrual Equity press conferenceSubmitted Image

HARRISBURG, PA — Governor Josh Shapiro has floated a compelling proposal: an allocation of $3 million in the state budget to ensure no-cost period products for public school students. This audacious plan to debunk the period stigma was proposed during the Governor’s second budget address.

Almost a quarter of students in the U.S. can scarcely afford period products, an unfortunate reality that impedes their rights to education. Pennsylvania’s First Lady, Lori Shapiro, has been an ardent advocate for this cause. On Tuesday, joining forces with state representatives and other community leaders, she emphasized the importance of the proposal’s inclusion in the final budget.

The First Lady stressed, “We need to support and empower those girls — and that’s why Josh included $3 million in this year’s budget proposal to provide pads and tampons in schools at no cost to our students.”

Senator Maria Collet (D-12) lauded the initiative as economically practical, remarking that it requires “a fraction of a percentage of our total budget” to make period products freely accessible in public school restrooms.

Across the country, legislative momentum is supporting menstrual equity, with 27 states along with Washington D.C. passing consequential laws that promote free access to school period products. If approved, Pennsylvania’s proposal may build upon this wave of positive change.

Senator Judy Schwank (D-11) praised the proposed initiative stating, “Governor Shapiro’s proposal to provide period products free to every public school in Pennsylvania is uncontroversial and will have a significant impact on the lives of many of our students.”

Assuring menstrual equity requires more than just funding period products in schools. Senators Cappelletti and Collett have taken a progressive step with the introduction of Senate Bill 906, The Pennsylvania Menstrual Equity Act, which intends to provide no-cost period products in Pennsylvania’s public agencies serving young, indigent, homeless, or incarcerated individuals.

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Senator Amanda Cappelletti (D-17) spoke about the immense pressure many students face when they are unable to afford period products, thus risking their right to education. The meeting also highlighted the distressing health implications for those forced to resort to unsanitary alternatives, reinforcing the urgency of this initiative.

Simultaneously, the House Education Committee passed House Bill 850, which proposes extending the aid of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) towards acquiring menstrual hygiene products, a basic necessity currently excluded from these programs.

Representative Darisha Parker (D-198), the main sponsor of House Bill 851, expressed her zeal for these efforts, stating, “When you talk about this lane of work, it is hard. It is very embarrassing that a woman like me, today, will be walking with a box of tampons to tell the Senate to pass House Bill 851.”

Governor Shapiro’s proposal is a significant step toward menstrual equity in Pennsylvania, with potential implications that extend beyond the students of the state. It serves as a reckoning for those states yet to address this crucial issue and offers an exemplary path to follow.

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