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Nonprofit PERIOD Denton holds rally in Dallas for first National Period Day

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PERIOD Denton and North Texas youth activists held a rally Saturday at Dallas City Hall in honor of the first National Period Day to advocate for menstruation rights.

PERIOD Denton is a local chapter of the national non-profit PERIOD that was established in September. One of the group’s goals is to end period poverty by advocating for better access to period products and education about menstruation.

“In the U.S., there are still 35 states that tax menstrual care products as luxury goods and Texas is obviously one of them,” PERIOD Denton president Mari Austin said. “For homeless and low-income individuals, and just anyone really shouldn’t have to allocate hundreds of dollars in their lifetime to such a sexist and unnecessary tax. The high cost of menstrual care products means choosing between food or products to manage [periods].”

Austin said another goal of the group is to end stigma toward menstruation that labels it as dirty, shameful or uncomfortable. She said these attitudes are what contribute to unfair legislation.

“You know you whisper to your friend, ‘Oh, do you have a tampon?’ and then you hide it up your sleeve and run to the bathroom with it,” Austin said. “That’s the small scale that over time and multiplied by all these people creates [stigma]. The large scale is what’s allowed legislators to just sweep this issue under the rug for so long and to just not address it.”

The rally is one of the first of PERIOD Denton’s efforts to achieve these goals. PERIOD collected donations of menstruation care products and had a petition calling to reform the tampon tax.

“We’re hoping to encourage legislative action to push for the end of the tampon tax,” PERIOD promotions and outreach coordinator Nikhita Ragam said. “We’re also just like looking forward to pushing for free products and school shelters and prison because there aren’t adequate resources to do that.”

Miss Dallas, Averie Bishop speaks at the PERIOD Denton rally on Oct. 19, 2019. Image by Quincy Palmer

“I didn’t have feminine hygiene products and the products on campus sold in the stores are $9,” Bishop said. “I told myself I’m going to sit through this period leaking through my pants and finish this quiz, then go home and not go to the rest of my classes. I just want to emphasize that no girl or no individual who menstruates should ever have to choose whether to prioritize their education or go deal with their period because they don’t have access to products.”The rally also included several booths from partner organizations, musical performances and guest speakers such as Miss Dallas Averie Bishop, who studies law at Southern Methodist University. Bishop told the crowd about her experience of missing class because she unexpectedly began menstruating.

Demonstrators also performed various chants and toted signs calling for change. Demonstrator Lucy Kim said she was inspired to attend because she used to be unaware of the issues the rally is centered around.

“I didn’t know that there was such a tax on mental products that indicate or categorize menstrual products as a luxury product,” Kim said. “It’s meaningful that the girls and the guys here today can come here and protest that it is not a luxury product. Without these kinds of rallies, I’m not sure everyone here would know about such things as well as actually do something about it.”

Another demonstrator, Akshay Jaitly, shared this sentiment. He said that while he attended because his friend was helping organize, he learned a lot from the rally.

“By coming here I learned when you remove the stigmas around talking about periods, you create a more open environment where people can truly understand what’s happening,” Jaitly said. “I have not been privy to the disadvantages of getting periods. Until today, I didn’t know about the hardships of having a period, but it’s harder than I thought it was.”

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With the rally over, PERIOD Denton intends to continue its efforts with fundraisers and fostering education on menstruation in Denton and surrounding areas. More information on PERIOD Denton can be found on their Facebook or Instagram pages.

“Menstrual health is not a privilege, it’s a basic human right,” Austin said. “No one really talks about it because it’s so taboo, but the fact is you either bleed or you know someone who bleeds.”

Featured Image: Demonstrators hold signs and posters in support of the PERIOD Denton rally at Dallas City Hall on Oct. 19, 2019. Image by Quincy Palmer

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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