For most women, periods are a part of everyday life. So why is their existence often treated like some kind of taboo? That's the question that led Julia Trujillo and the other members of the …
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Each year, thousands of Girl Scouts nationwide earn the Gold Award, the highest achievement a Girl Scout in high school can earn. These Gold Award Girl Scouts tackle an issue that is dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. Annually, GSUSA recognizes 10 of these girls as National Gold Award Girl Scouts for completing projects that exemplify strong leadership and sustainable impact.
Earning the Gold Award opens doors to scholarships, preferred admission tracks for college, and career opportunities — as well as skills that set girls up for success, like strategic thinking, communication, collaboration, problem solving, and time management.
For most women, periods are a part of everyday life. So why is their existence often treated like some kind of taboo?
That's the question that led Julia Trujillo and the other members of the intersectional feminist club she founded at Arvada West High School to launch an effort to get the school to install menstrual product dispensers in its student restrooms.
“We have them in our clinic but that was something unknown to most people,” said Trujillo. “And I really felt like it perpetuated this idea that a period is like a sickness or a public event instead of something to be handled in the privacy of your own home.”
Trujillo created a presentation aiming to convey that point and presented it to administrators at Arvada West High School.
“They were really not receptive to the idea,” she said. “It got a lot of pushback.”
So Trujillo decided to take matters in her own hands by launching a campaign to raise funds from the community to buy menstrual supply dispensers. Eight months later, she had raised enough to acquire three dispensers as well as a year's supply of products to stock them.
`The whole thing was just so much more involved than I had expected,” Trujillo said. `It was such a struggle and that made me realize that students everywhere would be facing the same unaddressed basic necessity.”
That's when Trujillo started to think bigger She enlisted the help of her state representative, House District 27 Rep. Brianna Titone.
The pair worked together on a bill that would have set up a grant program to help schools afford menstrual product dispensers to place in their schools that would have prioritized schools with low income populations that Titone eventually introduced on the house floor.
Titone, however, insisted that Trujillo and the other girls in the club help her promote the bill by lobbying legislators and testifying on the house floor.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to not run a bill for them, but run a bill with them, so they could learn what the process is like firsthand,” Titone said.
That experience turned out to be both an empowering and eye-opening one, Trujilo said.
“I was definitely very surprised, honestly, at how receptive policymakers were to my perspective my ideas on this bill,” she said. “And I think it definitely was like a testament to how much I think people in government actually want to hear from us when it comes to like issues that impact youth. It's a very cool experience to sort of have that affirmed.”
Unfortunately, the one thing Titone and Trujillo didn't expect was COVID-19, which led the house to make the decision not to move forward with the bill due to the budget constraints that have resulted from the pandemic.
But while the bill didn't ultimately pass, Trujillo's efforts to expand access to menstrual materials have nonetheless gotten notice.
On Oct. 11, Girl Scouts of the USA announced that Trujillo, who got started in Girl Scouts as a Daisy Scout at just five years old, had been named a 2020 National Gold Award Girl Scout, an honor presented each year to just 10 girl scouts nationwide in recognition of their “showing extraordinary leadership and creating change with sustainable impact.”
“These 10 remarkable girls are proof that Girl Scouts gives girls the tools to harness their inner power and make a meaningful difference in the world. In this difficult year and always, Girl Scouts are our hope for the future,” said Girl Scouts of the USA Interim CEO Judith Batty in a press release about the award.”
As a recipient of the award, Trujillo received a scholarship and participate in (digital activities) connecting with the other recipients and people involved in the issues they focused their advocacy on. However, Trujillo said the biggest highlight came when she addressed the United Nations on International Day of the Girl, a day meant to celebrate and amplify the voices of women.
“That was very cool,” said Trujillo. “I was very grateful to get to meet and speak to so many amazing people.”
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