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Our Opinion: End Utah girls’ period poverty: Yes, on HB 162

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Studies show that today 1 in 5 teens in the US have struggled to afford period products or were not able to purchase them at all. Studies also show that 86% of teen girls said, “I hide my period products when I walk out of class to go to the bathroom.” 

These national statistics are reflected among Utah’s young women as well. It’s time for the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation to stop. Every young woman has a period andneeds access to feminine hygiene products. It’s a basic human function that occurs among all women from teenage girls towomen in their 40s and 50s. We provide toilet paper and paper towels to our youth in school bathrooms, why not period products? At least 20% of teen girls have reported missing school because they lacked menstrual supplies. 

Representative Karianne Lisonbee, a republican member of the Utah State legislature from Clearfield, has sponsored HB162, which calls for period products (tampons and sanitary napkins) to be placed in public and charter school bathrooms throughout Utah. Bills like this have been presented to past Utah legislatures but died prior to passage. 

It’s time to pass this bill. 

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Other organizations have already placed free period products in their women’s bathrooms including University of Utah, Utah State University, Salt Lake City public buildings, Disneyland, and more. States have passed related legislation for free menstrual products including Colorado, Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington. Many other states and countries have recently proposed similar legislation.

Private donors have stepped forward to cover the cost of dispensers in Utah, (approx. $1 million) for public and charter bathrooms. The broad coalition includes Kristin Andrus (Jeremy Andrus of Traeger), working with Emily Bell McCormick, who are leading the private donor group.

According to The Policy Project, “Almost 7 out of 10 girls (68 percent), in the U.S., have missed school due to a lack of access to products. And 1 in 5 teens cannot afford period products at all. For children experiencing “period poverty” (the lack of access to menstrual products), the results lead to lowered confidence and continuous disruptions in their education. Period products are as necessary to menstruating children as toilet paper.”

This bill is also supported by the University of Utah’s Hinkley Institute.

We urge Lehi legislators, Jake Anderegg, Kay Christofferson, and Corey Maloy pass HB162 which provides a basic human necessity to Utah’s girls and young women. 

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Lehi Free Press Editorial Board

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