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Ohio State students Ella Roxey, Anusha Singh successfully advocate for $5 million in funding for period products in schools

December 7, 2023

Ohio State students Ella Roxey, Anusha Singh successfully advocate for $5 million in funding for period products in schools

Eliminate the tampon tax, free period products in schools, free period products in homeless shelters and prisons.

Those are the three primary goals of the menstrual justice movement “Period”, two of which have now been accomplished in the State of Ohio. While the tampon tax in Ohio was eliminated in November of 2019, funding for period products in schools had not been approved until July 2023, after two Ohio State students and members of Period at Ohio State stepped up.

Senior Ella Roxey and medical student Anusha Singh played a significant role in successfully advocating for $5 million in state funding to put period products in public schools across the Buckeye state. The funding will provide menstrual products to students who might have otherwise had to miss school because they did not have the means to access the products at home.

According to Roxey, one in four girls in the United States has missed school because they didn’t have access to a period product, such as pads or tampons.

“I sent a ton of emails,” said Roxey, a double major in political science and criminology and criminal justice. “At first, I was working on forming a coalition of advocates across the state. From there, it was a matter of keeping everyone in the loop and gathering different ideas and perspectives on how we could get this done.”

Roxey was pleasantly surprised at how bipartisan the support for the funding was while campaigning for support.

“I met with anyone that would meet with me. It was so exciting to sit down with people on both sides of the aisle,” she said. “There wasn’t much of a partisan split. In fact, some were surprised that we didn’t already have this kind of funding. I had an idea that Senator Nickie Antonio, who was the assistant minority leader at the time, would be interested in this, and she was. The hard part was just pitching to those who might not be as passionate about the issue.

“It was one of those moments where I was reminded that there is so much more that is going to bring us together than things that divide us,” Roxey continued. “It was great that we received so little pushback.”

Where Roxey spearheaded the policy side of the movement, Singh helped provide expertise on the public health side. A 2021 graduate in neuroscience, Singh founded the Period chapter at Ohio State in 2018, which played a key role in advocating for the repeal of the tampon tax the following year.

“I worked really closely with Ella on getting these products into schools,” Singh said. “Ella was our advocacy leader on behalf of Period at Ohio State. In the Ohio State Medical Association, I authored and passed policy for free period products to try and get support from the Ohio State medical community in April of 2023.”

Singh added that getting funding for period products is about more than just ending period poverty.

“This issue is intertwined with so many other issues like racial justice and gender justice,” she said. “We hear stories so often about how those in shelters and prisons have had to use unhygienic methods of maintaining their periods, like cardboard and toilet paper, which can lead to infections. It’s so important for us to focus on these vulnerable populations.”

Initially, Roxey and her fellow advocates requested $8 million in funding, two million dollars for dispensers in schools and then an additional $3 million annually for two years to supply the products. Ultimately, they were granted $5 million which will cover schools who requested the funding through the 2023-2024 school year.

The deadline for Ohio schools to apply for the funding was early October, so while the data is not yet available, Roxey is hopeful that prior examples of similar funding will show a difference is being made.

“In New York, when they approved similar funding, their attendance among menstruating students increased by 2.5%, which was something that we leaned on when requesting funding,” Roxey said.

While the funding for schools has been approved and the tampon tax eliminated, there is still one major pillar Period is hoping to knock down. Free period products are still not available in homeless shelters or prisons in Ohio, but Roxey, Singh and a large group of advocates are continuing to work to make sure it gets done.

 “I am still working hard with Ohio State facilities to try and get these products in restrooms on campus as well,” Roxey said. “This was a project that I spent so much time on.

“I feel as though I have a lasting legacy in the State of Ohio, which is really exciting.”

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