Local teen lobbying lawmakers

Amaya Waymon donates femine products for the Girl Flo project. Photo courtesy Amaya Waymon

March is the start of the Florida legislative session for this year and girls across the state are focusing on a new bill: the “Learning with Dignity Act.” It would ensure feminine products in female restroom facilities of Florida public school buildings, free of charge. One Tallahassee high school student is looking to make that bill become a reality.

“I know if this bill was pushed and it actually came across all boards, there would be no need for people to try and find funding,” said Amaya Waymon.

Waymon, 15, is a student in Tallahassee who started The Girl Flo project aimed at helping girls in her community have access to menstrual products. The project’s mission states “every girl should be able to maintain her dignity with self-pride.”

Waymon, who grew up watching her mom serve the community, knows what it means to help people in need. What started as a community service project, the Girl Flo has helped girls at local middle and high schools have access to affordable menstrual products. With a grant, Waymon was able to distribute over three thousand products to local schools as well as community centers geared towards younger girls.

Helping women restore their dignity includes access to quality hygiene products at an affordable cost. Regis College reports 30 States have a tax on period solutions because they are considered “nonessential” goods. Lawmakers in Texas have previously filed for a bill that would make period products tax exempt. A woman living in poverty may have to choose between buying food for her children and products for their menstrual cycle. Founder of The Beauty Initiative, Ashley Eubanks knows stories like this all too well.

“When I was getting off the highway one day, I {saw} a woman and she was homeless and she was panhandling asking for money,” said Eubanks. “When she turned around I saw her pants were stained with blood.”

Eubanks’ organization is also advocating to enact Senate bill 242 and make female hygiene necessities accessible to women and girls. Waymon and Eubanks have worked together to combat period poverty and get the bill on the Senate’s agenda.

This bill is geared at allowing students access to affordable feminine hygiene products rather than missing days from school if they have their period. According to a press releasefrom the Florida Senate, women spend $100 to $300 annually on menstrual products. If a student were to miss school every time she had her period, she would be set 145 days behind her fellow male students according to The Beauty Initiative.

Waymon plans to continue her project over the summer by looking for funding and donations to continue to help young women just like her, learn with dignity.

The bill was filed in December 2020 and introduced earlier this month.