Arvada West Students Challenge the Way Colorado Views Menstrual Products

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Arvada West Students Challenge the Way Colorado Views Menstrual Products

The Colorado State Capitol building.

The Colorado State Capitol building.

Courtesy of colorado.gov

The Colorado State Capitol building.

Courtesy of colorado.gov

Courtesy of colorado.gov

The Colorado State Capitol building.

Jaelynn Kraft, Rookie Reporter

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Women’s sanitary products and the discussion around them has been massively controversial for years and, recently the pricing and taxing of these products have been widely debated.

In recent legislative proceedings, the Denver city council voted to drop the sales tax on menstrual products. A report in 2017, done in efforts to get rid of the “pink/luxury” tax on tampons and pads, showed that the estimated 1.5 million women within the average age of menstruation in Colorado, spent around $60 yearly on feminine hygiene products. Prior to the unanimous vote to change the 4.3% tax on these items, the state was collecting around 2 dollars per person. 

Arvada West High School students joined in on the complex conversation, as a group of students from the school’s intersectional feminist club asked that feminine hygiene products be provided for students in the women’s bathrooms throughout the school. The school turned down their request saying that they did not have enough funds to add these into the bathrooms. 

As a result, the club decided to take things into their hands and raised enough money to put tampons and pads in the restrooms. Despite this, these students decided to take their concerns to their local state representatives asking for tampons and pads to be added to all Jeffco Schools’ bathrooms.

  This movement got enough publicity that a bill is being considered that would allow Colorado schools to set up a grant program funded mainly through donations and gifts from the state, that schools can choose to apply for. 

This bill would be in favor of schools with large numbers of low-income students, in hopes to help students who may not be able to afford the appropriate commodities during their periods. The driving factor behind low-income students having access to hygiene products was a survey done by menstrual hygiene brand Always. The survey showed that 1 out of 5 girls has missed school due to a lack of period protection. Whether the lack of security comes from insufficient means to acquire the goods or absence of prepared materials, it seems to be detrimental to young women’s learning environments.

Maia Weslar, a member of Arvada West’s feminism club, spoke about the impact the entire ordeal has had on her community as well as touched on the future plans of this movement. “I would say that our community is pretty divided as of now with most of the youth being in favor of our mission, but many of the adults are skeptical of it.” 

The skepticism she’s referring to could be in part from the Jefferson County Republican Party. After the bill was proposed, the Jefferson County Republican Party posted on Facebook, calling the bill “too extreme.”. Weslar went on to talk about her current knowledge of where the school board stands and said,  “We are talking at one of their meetings this month but have talked to the Jeffco superintendent a couple of times, and he is in support and stated that he will make it happen in Jeffco regardless of the state bill passing or not. 

Only time will tell the outcome of the bill and the long-term effects of Arvada West’s project, but these students’ advocacy has certainly stirred the pot. As of now, the bill is still waiting to be voted on, but it certainly seems to live up to the controversial history regarding menstruation.