College students are teaching their city that period poverty doesn’t only happen in developing countries –– it’s a problem right at home.
Musicians, local artists, and community members will raise funds for menstrual hygiene products and education in Bozeman, Montana, on Saturday at “That Time of the Month.” The student-led organization Crescent Montana is hosting the event in partnership with a local coffee shop and is a part of the PERIOD organization’s first #NationalPeriodDay on Oct. 19, when all 50 states will rally to elevate the issue of period poverty in the US.
“This is an issue that everybody should be passionate about because it is 50% of our students who are affected by something that can potentially seriously hurt their education,” Owen Burroughs, a sophomore-year student studying political science and microbiology at Montana State University (MSU) told Global Citizen. “You don't have to be a woman to talk about this.”
🌙 Are you going planning on coming to "That Time of the Month" Music Festival? It's only three days away!— CrescentMontana (@CrescentMontana) October 16, 2019
We are excited to announce our musical lineup featuring local stars such as savannahmaywood, MSU's Rhapsody,… https://t.co/ljkzTkh6SS
Burroughs and Jessica Brito founded Crescent Montana at MSU in 2018, to help provide middle and high school students with access to menstrual products. The organization aims to provide information on how to help low-income and at-risk people who menstruate.
Burroughs and Brito grew up in Bozeman, and when they stayed in the city to attend college, they wanted to find a way to give back. The friends took an interest in specifically helping rural communities and the large Native American population in the state –– a marginalized group that is often denied quality education.
“My grandmother grew up poor on an Indian reservation and missed out on school when she had her period,” board member Abby Bernard said in a statement released to Global Citizen. “Toilet paper is free in bathrooms, why shouldn’t pads and tampons be free?”
Crescent Montana wasn’t satisfied with local schools' efforts to make period products accessible –– often students must ask school nurses to get them, which can be embarrassing and perpetuates the stigma attached to menstruate. The group learned about strict no bathroom policies that can be damaging to students who are managing their periods. As a solution, the organization started building and installing inviting period product dispensers decorated with empowering words. They partnered with a local reproductive health center to include instructions for safe product use on the dispensers.
Products alone won’t solve period poverty, and Crescent Montana hopes to create a curriculum to give out to all students within classrooms that explains menstruation and decreases stigma. The organization is also discussing providing teachers with informational packets advising them on how to restructure their classrooms to be more inclusive of people who menstruate.
Burroughs said the organization’s work has been well received so far. When Crescent Montana tested distributing 500 period products at Bozeman High School –– where pads and tampons were already available through the nurse’s office –– they had to restock within a month.
Proceeds from the festival on Saturday will support Crescent Montana’s period product distribution initiatives.
“You don't have to have a period to be angry about the current state of period poverty and to get involved,” Burroughs said.