Congresswomen Beatty and Meng Introduce Homeless Youth Menstrual Product Access Act
WASHINGTON, D.C.—This week, Representatives Joyce Beatty (OH-03) and Grace Meng (NY-06) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Homeless Youth Menstrual Product Access Act, H.R. 5177. If enacted, the bill would allow Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Program grant recipients to use a portion of those funds to provide free menstrual hygiene products to runaway and homeless youth.
“Access to adequate sanitary products is a challenge for women and girls experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness,” Beatty said. “This can lead to difficult hygiene choices that can result in serious health problems as well as social stigma and isolation.” Beatty continued, “These products are not a luxury but a necessity. That is why I am proud to help lead the fight to expand access to much-needed feminine hygiene products, and I call on my congressional colleagues to join me in supporting this effort.”
“Young people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness must have access to menstrual hygiene products,” Meng said. “This is not just a matter of safety; it is a matter of human dignity. I am proud to introduce this critical bill alongside my colleague, Congresswoman Beatty, so that these young people have access to these necessary items. After all, menstrual equity is a health right, and I am proud to have championed this issue in Congress. I urge all my colleagues to support this bill.”
According to data from the University of Chicago’s Chapin House, some two million young women between the ages of 13 and 25 experience homelessness in any given year. Moreover, a recent survey published in Obstetrics and Gynecology Medical Journal found that nearly two-thirds of low-income women in St. Louis, Missouri, could not afford menstrual hygiene products and that more than one in five women said they had this problem every month. As a result, the women who were surveyed said they made do with cloth, rags, tissues, toilet paper, diapers, or even paper towels from public bathrooms. Further, almost half of the women stated that there were times in the past year when they could not afford to buy both food and feminine hygiene products.
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