Gov. Shapiro is bringing period products back to Pennsylvania’s public schools

Period products

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By Ashley Adams

April 30, 2024

In his budget proposal, Gov. Josh Shapiro has called for $3 million to be set aside to provide period products to all public school students free of charge.

Aunt Flow. Monthly bill. Crimson wave. Yes, we’ve got a lot of ways to talk about a female’s period, but not nearly enough ways to talk about the need for accessible period products—especially in schools.

Addison Murrell, 16, said she tries to go to school each day with at least a tampon or pad in her backpack. But there have been times when her period started unexpectedly, and the Berks County student needed supplies she didn’t have on-hand.

“It’s embarrassing to need something and not have it,” Murrell said. “It happened to me at school and there weren’t any products available. I walked around all day with a sweatshirt tied around my waist.”

Anyone who’s ever had a period knows a sweatshirt cover-up isn’t the answer for an entire school day—especially a day when you’re expected to be focused on learning.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro said his wife, First Lady Lori Shapiro, has spoken to girls who have missed classes when their periods came on and their schools did not have any products available.

During his recent budget address, Shapiro called on public schools across the state to provide free period products to students—who, after all, are in the early stages of learning how their bodies work, and don’t always have family guidance or money to properly manage their period products. Shapiro’s budget proposal includes $3 million to increase access and alleviate period poverty, along with the shame society attaches to it.

“This budget makes feminine hygiene products available at no cost in our schools because girls deserve to have peace of mind so they can focus on learning,” Shapiro said.

Period poverty—not being able to afford period products—impacts 500 million women across the country. According to the 2021 report State of the Period, nearly 23% of US students who menstruate have struggled to afford period products.

Lower-income, rural, and students of color are especially affected. Almost half of Black and Latino students feel they are not able to do their best schoolwork because of a lack of access to period products, compared to 28% of white students in the US.

Murrell said she isn’t the only female student in her high school to have an embarrassing incident with her period. In fact, all of her friends have some kind of period horror story to tell.

Plus, Murrell said, if she has a headache at school, she can get Tylenol from the nurse. Why can’t she get a period product if she needs it?

“If I needed a pencil, they’d give me one,” Murrell said. “Sometimes, needing a tampon is just as important.”

Shapiro’s budget proposal will head to the Pennsylvania state legislature in June, where it’s expected to meet resistance from the Republican majority in the Senate. If the period product provisions make it through, students could be seeing them show up in public schools starting in the fall.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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