Testifying before Minnesota’s Senate Education Finance Committee in late January, Girl Scouts Chloe Henderson, Driana Schultz, Lexi Grengs, Ellie Schultz, and Addison Henderson advocated for the adoption of Bill S.F. 50, which would require and fully fund access to menstrual products in all Minnesota schools.
Menstrual inequity or "period poverty" as it is more commonly known, impacts at least one in five teens nationally, who say they struggle to afford period products or are unable to purchase them at all. As a result, 84 percent say they have missed school or know someone else who has due to lack of menstrual product access.1
Under current Minnesota law, students who menstruate do not have free access to menstrual products in school bathrooms—perpetuating gender inequality and health inequity, and often disrupting access to education. If adopted, the bill would institute a statewide requirement that school bathrooms serving students in grades 4-12 must be furnished with menstrual products, regardless of student gender identity. The state would cover expenses for providing these necessary supplies.
Girl Scouts from Troops 34640 and 27238 from Belle Plaine completed Silver Awards in 2022 for their work to fill this critical gap at their local schools. “Our solution worked great for the small school we worked with,” testified Chole Henderson from Troop 34640, “but it wouldn’t work for every school. We need a solution for every school.” They spoke passionately, relaying how they personally know students who have missed school due to lack of access to menstrual products and highlighting the injustice of period poverty.
“Feminine hygiene products are not a luxury,” said Lexi Griggs from Troop 34640, "they are a basic need." “We all know there are girls [at our school] who can’t afford to eat, let alone find money to buy period products. Not having supplies causes undue stress for students that need to focus on learning.”
Members of Troop 27238 underlined how this stress can be particularly acute for younger students at elementary schools, which are usually not equipped for menstruating students to access the products they need discreetly.
“Please consider all girls when you make this decision,” said Addison from Troop 27238. “Look at our faces and tell us we don’t deserve to have one less thing to worry about.”
Though no further action on the bill has been scheduled yet, this powerful testimony will undoubtedly impact the future of S.F. 50 as it is considered in the 2023-2024 legislative session.
“I can’t overstate how appropriate and important it is for youth to use their voices in these spaces," said Sara Gangelhoff, Advocacy and Community Relations Manager at Girl Scouts River Valleys. “Elected officials represent them too! We have heard from legislators that Girl Scouts lend a powerful voice to the issues they hear about. These girls shared their expertise in front of an audience that would be intimidating for most adults, all to advocate for their peers and younger generations of students. They are truly girls of courage, confidence, and character, who are making the world a better place.”
If you or your troop would like to learn more about civics and advocacy, like working on a democracy badge, testifying on a bill, meeting with your elected officials, or another topic, connect with our advocacy team.
Chloe Henderson, Driana Schultz, and Lexi Grengs of Girl Scout Troop 34640
Ellie Schultz and Addison Henderson of Girl Scout Troop 27238