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"It's about time": South St. Paul high school girls get free period products in bathrooms, paving the path for state lawmakers

South St. Paul girls help to end "period poverty" in Minnesota schools
South St. Paul girls help to end "period poverty" in Minnesota schools 01:54

SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A group of high school girls gave legislators an important lesson, and it led to a new statewide law.

Aniyah Lumpkin, Olivia Banks and Queen Nyakelga are all juniors at South St. Paul High School and were frustrated by having little to no access to period products in their school bathrooms.

"I noticed that it was really hard for girls to get a pass to go down to the nurse's office, and have to make that time to miss class," said Lumpkin.

With a lot of complaints from their fellow classmates, these girls brought this problem to their social group, called "The Women's Society," who then took the issue to the district.

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They ended up partnering with a nonprofit, Assistance League, to get the funding to put dispensers and high-quality tampons and pads in every bathroom in the high school starting last year.

"[The dispensers] are always restocked by us and our teachers," said Banks.

Then this year, state lawmakers addressed this problem, too. As part of their education spending package, they passed a measure requiring all school districts in the state to make period products accessible and free in all restrooms for students in grades 4 through 12.  

South St. Paul Public Schools

"Us girls, throughout the whole district, are finally heard now," said Nyakelga.

"I think it's great, I think it's about time," said Lumpkin.

"It felt really good to have that be recognized and to finally have this issue being solved at other schools as well," said Banks.

This whole experience has inspired some of them to pursue healthcare careers, and more importantly, it's taught them the power of their voices.

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"As I woman, I think our voices need to be heard more," said Banks.

"You can be a small seed, but as soon as you speak up, you can sprout to be something great," said Nyakelga.

Since making these changes happen, membership has drastically grown for The Women's Society. They tell us even some boys have joined the school group as well.

Click here to learn more about the Assistance League.

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