The Alabama Legislature has voted through a bill to provide feminine hygiene products in certain Alabama schools.
House Bill 50 (HB50), by State Rep. Rolanda Hollis (D-Birmingham), seeks to create a grant program for certain state-funded schools to make feminine hygiene products available to females.
The lack of access to certain feminine products is labeled "period poverty" by many advocates. Supporters have argued that period poverty negatively affects women and girls in low-income households. Advocates have long urged schools to make the products available for women and girls, specifically in public schools.
The grant funds would be allocated to individual school boards to provide qualifying schools with the necessary funding to provide the products to the women and girls in their schools.
Any qualifying school that accepts a grant award under this section shall provide feminine hygiene products to female students in grades 5-12 through a female school counselor, female nurse or female teacher selected by the principal at no cost to students.
Hollis became aware of the issue after two young Jefferson County girls initiated a grassroots campaign.
Twin sisters Breanna and Brooke Bennett are 14-year-old high school freshmen at Saint James School in Montgomery.
The sisters started a non-profit called Women In Training to try and help solve the problem of period poverty in the state.
"We started Women In Training because our mom was a teacher at an all-girls school in Miami, Florida," said Breanna Bennett. "We saw students asking my mom for feminine products, which seemed odd to us."
The girls said they knew feminine products were also essential, and they were shocked to find out there was no plan to get pads or tampons for girls and women.
"And here is another problem - in many cases, who is growing up to become lawmakers and decision-makers in Alabama? Men," said Breanna Bennett. "In schools, the boys and girls are separated into different rooms for the 'birds and bees' or puberty talk. So, through no fault of their own, boys are uneducated about the issues."
The bill is headed to the governor's desk for her consideration.
Nicole Allshouse contributed to this article.
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