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Hawaii public schools could soon offer free menstrual products

State legislators are close to passing bill which would appropriate $1 million to the Department of Education to provide menstrual pads and tampons.
Published: Apr. 17, 2022 at 8:03 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 11:15 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii public school students could soon have access to free products for their periods.

State legislators are close to passing Senate Bill 2821, which would appropriate about $1 million to the Department of Education to provide menstrual pads and tampons because many students can’t afford them.

Behind the bill are science teacher Sarah Milianta-Laffin, also known as Ms. Mili, and her Ilima Intermediate School students who have been advocating for menstrual equity for three years.

They argue period products are an essential school supply.

“What we’ve learned from the data is that there are a lot of students who can’t afford these products and don’t have access,” Milianta-Laffin said.

“And when the students don’t have access, they miss days of school and learning opportunities. We definitely want to make sure now more than ever that kids are in school and having the supplies they need to learn.”

“Some of us can’t really afford that much money to buy luxuries such as period products that they have to weigh,” said eighth grader and student activist Reizel-Nicole Escoto.

“They have to consider if they want food that night or they want pads or tampons or napkins.”

Among the nightmare scenarios: Girls who have to use unsafe alternatives like leaves and paper.

The group believes passing the bill will ensure the health and safety for young students, as well as lessen the stigma of talking about menstruation.

Watch The Interview with Annalisa Burgos and Ms. Mili and her students here.

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