STORY UPDATE: “Time to Write to Hartford!” Say 2 Wilton Teens Advocating Menstrual Equity

Hartford is considering lots of provocative legislation this session–there are bills dealing with solitary confinement, vaccines, legalizing marijuana…and tampons?

Indeed, there are two pieces of proposed legislation right now that state legislators are considering, which deal with the availability of menstrual products for Connecticut students:  one is in front of the Children’s Committee, SB 157 An Act Concerning the Provision of Free Feminine Hygiene Products in Middle and High School Student Bathrooms; and another being considered by the Public Health Committee, SB 140 An Act Requiring Free Feminine Hygiene Products in Middle and High School Student Bathrooms, introduced by Representatives Lucy Dathan (D–142) and Christine Conley (D-40).

Both bills would require local and regional boards of education to provide free feminine hygiene products in middle and high school student bathrooms.

It’s an issue that two Wilton teens have championed, and one they’re still following closely. After studying women’s access to menstrual products for their Capstone project in 8th grade at Middlebrook SchoolTiffany Ling and Joy Ren (now Wilton High School freshmen) went to Hartford last summer at the invitation of Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz to present their project to the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls–Health and Safety Subcommittee.

The two feel strongly about how the issue of access to feminine hygiene products can impact students all over Connecticut. Difficulty for some girls to access period products can impact their access to education and their health.

“No one talks about it. Girls are missing days of school and that should not be something they have to deal with. The fact that people can’t afford or they can’t get access to these period products, it shouldn’t be detrimental to their education,” Joy told GOOD Morning Wilton last fall.

In Hartford over the summer, Joy explained to the subcommittee how that can happen :

“Women and girls without access to clean feminine hygiene products have no choice but to rely on what they already have in order to keep their clothes from being soiled. They might have to use a dirty rag or even reuse products, despite how contaminated and unclean they are. When women are exposed to these bacterias for a certain time period during their menstrual cycles, it may lead to vaginal infections and weakening of the immune system… without these products, young girls are missing out on education opportunities. … When girls are frequently missing out on school, their quality of education and performance are heavily affected. But more importantly, their futures are affected. Feminine hygiene products should not be considered a “luxury” only the “fortunate” can afford, but an essential necessity accessible to all.”

Both the Children’s and the Public Health Committees have held public hearings on the bills this week–SB 157 on Tuesday, Feb. 25, and SB 140 on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Tiffany and Joy couldn’t go for the hearings with school in session, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped advocating for the legislation.

“We are both still making efforts to support [it]. Joy and I will be writing online testimonies to support SB157,” Tiffany says.

She’s encouraging other supporters to email testimony to the committees, which legislators will still be able to access until a vote is scheduled.

To submit written testimony, email the Children’s Committee with “SB157 support” or “SB157 against” in the subject line; and email the Public Health Committee with “SB140 support” or “SB140 against” in the subject line.

Wilton’s State Sen. Will Haskell says he plans on co-sponsoring the legislation that moves forward out of committee. “Women deserve the security and the safety of ready access to these products. To go without them can harm their health and needlessly complicate their lives. I’m happy to support this legislation, and I’m so grateful that students have come forward to share their stories. Let’s make sure all students can focus on their studies without having to worry about period poverty.”

a green buttton that says support and red button that says oppose
Click above to vote on 2020 SB 157: AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROVISION OF FREE FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS IN MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT BATHROOMS

Weigh in on the issue on the Bill Tracker site run by CTNewsJunkie.com.