2020 HB8 Progress!

CooperSharonFollowing a request from Rep. Debbie Buckner and Rep. Teri Anulewicz to Chairman Sharon Cooper of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee, HB8 was officially moved out of the Ways and Means Committee and into HHS on Wednesday, January 29th!

It had been made clear that HB8 would NOT get a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee this session.  Objections to the bill are varied, but include that despite being classified as medical devices by the FDA,  menstrual products are not considered medical devices in Georgia. The goal of moving to HHS is to get that designation accomplished. Chairman Sharon Cooper has voiced support of that effort, so we are hopeful for a successful 2020 legislative session!

Once the definition of the devices is changed in Georgia, we will work with the Department of Revenue to accomplish the tax exemption.

Stay tuned for a “Tax Free Tuesday” email with information on how to advocate for the change of definition of menstrual products in Georgia!

 

 

Advocacy Highlight: Students Speak to Fulton County School Board

This guest blog post was written by Aanika Eragam, student at Milton High School and a Homegirl Project fellow.  On December 3rd, Aanika spoke to the Fulton County School Board about the need for period products in Fulton County Schools.  Prior to that, Aanika  reached out to Georgia STOMP regarding her research and intention to speak to the School Board. We are honored to be connected to such a capable young leader! Watch the video and hear why!

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On December 3, 2019, a coalition of high school students presented a resolution to the Fulton County School Board, requesting a specific policy amendment that would require secondary schools to provide menstrual products free of cost in restrooms. The event was a culmination of collective student outrage stemming from a lack of access to period products in the school setting, an issue that holds grave implications for students’ mental and physical wellbeing, as well as their academic achievement. When products like toilet paper, hand soap, and paper towels are available free of cost in all restrooms, students had to ask why menstrual products, which are also considered a basic necessity, are not.

Students explained to the Board how a lack of free-of-cost menstrual products in public schools confiscates the basic dignity of students, disrupts the learning environment for girls, and for those living below the poverty line, leaves them without basic access. Students hope they made a strong case to the Board and placed period poverty on the agenda. They will continue to work towards ensuring accountability through civic engagement at the grassroots level.

 

Spotlight on Period.UGA!

IMG_8676Under the leadership of Chapter President, Jessica Ma, the PERIOD. group at the University of Georgia is thriving and bringing the message of menstrual equity to the campus in Athens.

On November 4th, following Period.UGA’s recent addition as a member, Georgia STOMP leadership updated a roomful of students on the coalition’s work. Questions following the presentation revealed just how informed and prepared to advocate Period.UGA is!

IMG_8683Additionally, these vibrant young women are proving themselves as leaders in the movement to eradicate period poverty. Through on-campus collections and distribution locally to those experiencing homelessness, they work to find new ways to share the message of menstrual equity.

Period.UGA’s recent National Period Day event was brilliantly planned to take advantage of traffic on campus for the Georgia Bulldog’s homecoming game. Georgia STOMP is better due to the work, voice and energy of these coalition partners!

 

 

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DOE Money FINALLY Distributed!

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With the 2019 legislative allocation of $1M for provision of feminine hygiene products in schools, the Georgia Department of Education (DOE) created a distribution formula that satisfied the intention of elected officials to begin addressing the issue of period poverty faced by Georgia students. In August, this formula was approved by the State Board of Education and the expectation was that the money would begin flowing. However, shortly after the State BOE approval of fund distribution, Governor Kemp announced his expectation that all state agencies cut spending by 4% in the 2019-2020 budget. Kemp’s announcement meant DOE had to hold the new funding while determining what the 4% cuts meant for allocations.

During the interim, while distribution was being finalized, Georgia STOMP worked with DOE to develop language and information that would be sent “with the money” when distribution did occur. We are thrilled to announce that on Wednesday, November 30th an email was sent to all Georgia Superintendents relating how much money was allocated for their district and explaining the intended purpose of the money and best methods for distribution, a document we were happy to see contained Georgia STOMP’s “voice.”

Attached is the FY20 Feminine Hygiene Grant Direct Certification for the funding. Many will notice the amounts in this document are different than the August document posted here. There are two reasons for this — first, this spreadsheet reflects the 4% cut in the $1M allocation, and second, the August document erroneously calculated funding based on all students in a system vs allocating based on the number of low income students in a school system.

Please use this information to contact your school leadership in order to fast-track the conversion of this money into period products placed in the hands of students who need them! If you have any questions about the distribution or can give us feedback about the implementation in your school system, please contact us at georgiastomp@gmail.com!

Guest Post from Mara Davis: On A Mission

My choice to align with period poverty issues started by wanting to find a way to bring women of different political views together.  A few years ago I went to a happy hour where everyone was on the same side politically.  The idea of the party was a meeting of the minds, but we were all like minded people.  To me this seemed kind of narrow.  Just because we don’t have the same views doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.  As we all talked it hit me, every single woman can relate to getting a period.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  From there I was on a mission.
I found the Homeless Period Project on Twitter.  One day I saw an article about girls missing school because they didn’t have access to products.  I retweeted it with a note saying how helpless I felt.  Then one of my followers turned me on to HPP.  I went to their site immediately, watched the video, cried and then reached out to the founder, Sharron Champion.  I couldn’t believe this was happening and it broke my heart.  She explained the mission and encouraged me to have a period party.  I did soon after and posted a photo of it on instagram.  Women all over Atlanta and beyond started to ask how to help. It was incredible.  Sharron warned me that once I started dropping off the product at schools I’d become addicted to helping girls.  She was right.  In between working I always find a way to move the cause further.  I was able to get the Indigo Girls involved in a benefit concert which was simply amazing.  Having their voice was a huge way to spread more awareness.  It was there I met Adele and Claire from Georgia STOMP and Jennifer Weiss Wolf.  Learning about what they do was a realization that this was bigger than just house parties. It’s a movement.
As time went on, more women wanted to volunteer with Homeless Period Project in Atlanta.  Enter Torrey Linder and Brittany Martin.  These two amazing women have taken the reins to make this an even bigger initiative.  It was because of them we were able to do the Stock The Schools event in September.  When I started with this cause I always had a dream of doing a giant period packing party at a brewery.  Sweetwater was kind enough to donate the space.  With the help of Torrey and Brittany we were off to the races.  I have become friendly with the nurses and teachers of East Hall County so we designated much of the product for them.  We had other groups involved that came to the event and they benefitted as well.  Because of being in media I was able to mention the event on The Bert Show which definitely brought more awareness.  In the end we raised about 2500 period packs.  Also, everyone there learned more about HB6, made period packs and left with new friends.
I’m thankful for Adele and Claire and the work they do trying to get legislation in order.  And it brings back to exactly why I wanted to get involved in the first place.  This is non partisan.  Women should not have to pay extra for something that happens to all of us once a month.  We can’t give up the fight and we won’t.  When women stand together, amazing things can happen.
Mara Davis is an Atlanta radio personality.  
Hear her on WABE ATL’s NPR, The Bert Show & Atlanta Eats

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