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!

IMG_4767

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!

 

 

PERIOD 01

Communities in Schools: Fueling Ambition in Schools

Communities in Schools Georgia President and CEO, Carol Lewis, spoke to Georgia STOMP leadership following our presentation and indicated CIS-Georgia’s desire to join the coalition!

IMG_2654

Claire Cox (Georgia STOMP), Carol Lewis (CIS-Ga President and CEO) and Leslie Myles (CIS-Ga Director Programs and Student Support Services)

Georgia STOMP was invited to speak at the Communities in Schools (CIS) Executive Directors’ meeting today in Atlanta, where affiliates from across the state met to plan for the upcoming year.  It was an honor for our coalition to be present as the men and women at the tables dedicate their time ensuring Georgia’s students succeed and reach their potential.

Claire Cox presented about Georgia STOMP’s 4 pillars, focusing on the $1 million in funding that was allocated to the Department of Education for feminine hygiene products. Those present were encouraged to communicate with principals, school nurses, school staff, and community members about the state funding to ensure all school systems know its purpose when the money is released by the State Department of Education and to be prepared to advocate for its continued presence in the budget when the legislature convenes for its 2020 session. All of the Executive Directors were also invited to officially join the Georgia STOMP coalition.

IMG_2655

Georgia STOMP’s Newest Coalition Member: GCADV

Georgia STOMP is thrilled to welcome the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (GCADV) to our coalition! Their expertise in collaboration, advocacy, education and empowerment is a welcomed addition to the Georgia STOMP network. If you aren’t familiar with their organization, their website is linked here.

The Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence envisions a Georgia free of domestic violence.  They empower survivors and the programs that serve them, educate the public, and advocate for responsive public policy.

Survivors of domestic violence aren’t simply survivors – they are community members. To only talk about survivors in terms of the domestic violence they’ve experienced ignores their wholeness and disregards the range of identities that they carry and navigate the world through; reality is so much bigger, brighter, and deeper. As the GCADV joins Georgia STOMP’s coalition, they bring an incredibly robust understanding of what challenges survivors face, and are helping to paint the picture of other ways Georgia can ensure survivors are able to thrive in our state. We are grateful to have them, and look forward to sharing successes with you as our ranks continue to grow!

Update from the Department of Public Health

Wednesday, June 5th, Georgia STOMP coalition co-leads, Claire Cox and Adele Stewart, received an update from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).

Current DPH distribution plans for menstrual products purchased with the $500,000 allocated in the 2020 state budget are summarized below:

DPH-Logo-Center-Height

  • Local community health departments (CHDs) will be able to order menstrual products using existing purchasing procedures for health products supplied by the Department of Public Health.
  • CHDs will be encouraged to start the fiscal year with a supply of a variety of products on their shelves, and order according to community need.
  • Recipients of the products will receive three months’ worth of menstrual products at each visit to DPH, to alleviate the burden of finding transportation.
  • The DPH will assess the distribution at both a mid-year point and at the end of the year.

Georgia STOMP looks forward to learning from the DPH’s program, and is grateful to work alongside them in the pursuit of improved menstrual product access.

Georgia STOMP Coalition Members Meet with the Department of Education

In light of the $1 million allocated in the 2020 budget during the 2019 Legislative Session, on Thursday, May 30, Georgia STOMP coalition members attended a meeting at the Georgia Department of Education to discuss the grant process.

IMG_0794

From Left to Right: Krista Lowe, Sylvia McGee, Therese McGuire, Dr. Bethany Caruso, Adele Stewart, Dr. Andrea Swartzendruber, and Claire Cox. Not pictured: Allan Meyer

Georgia STOMP coalition members were excited to learn about plans for the grant money from Georgia DOE representatives: Allan Meyer, Director of Policy, Krista Lowe, Program Manager for Residential Treatment Facilities, and Therese McGuire, Health and Physical Education Program Specialist.

Thank you to the legislators and advocates who made this program possible. Georgia is on track to be a national leader in the campaign to understand and address period product need in schools. Stay tuned for program updates over the coming months!

Georgia STOMP Spring Summit Meeting

On Tuesday, May 21, members of the Georgia STOMP Coalition met for the Spring Summit Meeting. Progress from the 2019 Legislative Session and plans for future successes were discussed. New faces were welcomed to the table, including Dr. Andrea Swartzendruber, Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia College of Public Health, Laura Register of LBR Consulting, and Kimberlyn Carter from Reform Georgia. Two new coalition member organizations were represented: Andrea Cooke, of Macon Periods Easier, and Sylvia McGee, of the Macon, Georgia Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

summitspring2019

Followers of the coalition can expect another year of broad ranging advocacy in the areas of period poverty and menstrual equity.

  • addressing period poverty and its effects on the education of women in our state’s public schools.
  • working with state, local, and county agencies to ensure menstrual products are available in adequate supply for incarcerated women and girls.
  • vigorously pursuing the elimination of state sales tax on menstrual products, holding that it is a minimum that can be done to address menstrual equity in Georgia.
  • continuing our successful collaboration with Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) to facilitate distribution of menstrual products in light of GEMA’s addition of period supplies to their list of basic necessities which grant funds can be used to purchase.

Member organizations appreciate the support followers and advocates have given to the Georgia STOMP initiatives, and look forward to ensuring that the coming months build upon past progress in bringing menstrual equity and an end to period poverty to Georgia.