SOUTHERN COLORADO — A new bill being proposed in the Colorado state legislature aims to set up a grant program that would supply free feminine hygiene products in schools across the state. News 5 met with the high school students who brought this idea to a state representative, after they petitioned their own school to bring in the products.
The intersectional feminist club at Arvada West High School first held a fundraiser to put tampons and pads in some of their bathrooms. The group raised around $1,500 and now the school will install three dispensers over winter break in different restrooms around their campus. The club did this to tackle what they saw as a stigma surrounding periods in their high school. "I think in high school especially, a lot of girls feel like their period is something they should be ashamed of," said Jocelyn Gotfred, a senior in the club at Arvada West High School.
After they addressed it at their school, the students decided to take it a step further. "We wanted to make it easier for all students within Colorado... We have students that are on free and reduced lunch, and there are students who are homeless within our community, and when they can't afford food then affording period products is not going to be a priority," said Julia Trujillo, another senior at Arvada West High School.
The students brought the idea to State Representative Brianna Titone, who has proposed a bill in the state legislature that would set up a grant program for the feminine hygiene products. "The idea is to get some grants and some gifts and donations from outside organizations that believe in what we're doing here, and what the students are doing, and to put together those resources to help the state fund some of these programs... The state will be putting a little bit of money up, and we're hoping that the rest of the money can come from those sources to get the most schools that we possibly can," said Representative Titone.
Representative Titone said the bill would first aim to help schools that have the highest percentage of students on free and reduced lunch programs. "All the schools can do what they would like to do, some schools may or may not want to participate in this, we're not forcing anyone to do that," said Representative Titone.
The Chair of the El Paso County Republicans, Vickie Tonkins, said this is not a government issue. "Why should it be the responsibility of me to provide for your feminine products?" said Tonkins.
Tonkins said individual communities should shoulder this responsibility, not lawmakers. "I'm going to put out a challenge that we adopt at least one or two schools, and we provide feminine products," said Tonkins. Tonkins proposed the idea for both the local chapters of Republicans and Democrats, and said they can reach out to her directly if they would like to participate in her challenge. The number for the El Paso County Republicans is (719) 578-0022.
Representative Titone said she is still working out the nuts and bolts of the grant program, but it will be one of the first bills she introduces in January.
News 5 also spoke with School District 11 in Colorado Springs, which said some of their schools do have dispensers for feminine hygiene products.