Philly student starts movement to end stigma around menstruation

Hadas Kuznits
February 26, 2020 - 1:46 pm
Germantown Friends School student Joanna Lin

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A high school student at Germantown Friends School launched an initiative this year to help people better understand some of the complicated issues regarding the menstrual cycle.  

Early this year, 10th grader Joanna Lin took it upon herself to conduct some research on the ways homeless women take care of themselves while menstruating. Her research on so-called "period poverty" led her to launch The Student Period Movement.

"I started this initative with the original idea to target this initial stigma around menstruation and to end the shame surrounding it that's often, I would say, extremely heightened as students," Lin said. "Our goal is to normalize menstruation and end the shame surrounding periods."

The Student Period Movement is using collection drives to open a conversation about menstruation.
Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio
She says they're trying to open up a conversation about periods through local sanitary product drives at schools, including Germantown Friends, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Wissahickon High School and Upper Dublin High School. 

After speaking at her affiliated middle school, Linn says she came to the conclusion that more needs to be done for early education about menstruation.

"Due to gaps in the menstural education programs, some [students> were not completely sure about the issues that can arise when putting on a pad for too long or having a tampon in for too long, which is the toxic shock syndrome," she said.

Lin believes the stigma begins when students are separated by gender in school to learn about puberty.

"So they're taught as children that information about menstruation and puberty are very sensitive topics that should be kept secret," Lin said.

She adds it's not only kids — but also lawmakers need more education.

"In the United States there are 31 states that still have the menstrual product tax, which says that menstrual items are considered luxury items."

She says some policymakers seem to be unaware of the socioeconomic impact of menstruation.