Ending the Cycle

PERIOD club’s mission to end menstrual inequality.


Pictured: Lucy Merrill

The topic of menstruation has long been condensed into a single FLASH lesson, a whispered discussion in the back of the class, the stealthy transfer of a tampon from backpack to pocket, and the painful sounds of a pad ripping open in a bathroom stall. Many people who menstruate can relate to that feeling of helplessness when they are on their period, a time when society seems to look the other way.


Perhaps less known is “period poverty”, the severe lack of menstrual products available to more than half of menstruators around the world. Cadence Cole is a senior and Vice President of Garfield’s PERIOD club. “There’s a large percentage of menstruators who basically have to make the decision between buying products and buying food, clothes, paying for their bills… and that’s just not okay.” said Cole.


PERIOD is an international non-profit that empowers young people across the world to combat period poverty and stigma through service, education, and advocacy. The organization has chapters in over fifty countries dedicated to raising awareness about menstruation and making period products available to their communities. Senior Lucy Merril first discovered the PERIOD Movement mid-sophomore year, and quickly became a passionate advocate for menstrual education and the fight to end period poverty.


“I found out about PERIOD and I wanted to start it because I am really passionate about women’s health, and menstrual health in general. [The PERIOD movement] combined feminist issues and my interest in healthcare.” Merril said.


At the beginning of her junior year in 2020, Merril founded Garfield’s chapter of PERIOD. The club hosted two successful product drives in 2021 that raised over 100,000 period products, and presented about menstruation inequality to health classes over Zoom last year.


The apparent affluence of Seattle shrouds the fact that period poverty exists everywhere. In July 2020 Washington became the 18th state to remove the “luxury item” sales tax on menstrual products. However, Seattle’s low income and unhoused people are still vulnerable to a lack of available products and poor menstrual hygiene. PERIOD club partnered with Pagliacci Pizza to collect products for Project Prevent, an GHS student-run organization that donated supply kits to Seattle’s unhoused population during the height of the pandemic. The partnership caught the attention of KING 5 News, who aired a segment about the drive and helped donations reach 97,000 individual products.


At club meetings on Fridays in Ms West’s room (302), the PERIOD club explores a variety of menstrual health-related issues, from analyzing SPS ballots to sustainable period products.

“One of the big things we want to focus on this year is getting free products in all the bathrooms here at Garfield…in the girls bathroom, the guys bathroom and the gender neutral bathrooms,” Cole said.


The idea that periods are not confined to a single gender is a large part of the PERIOD club’s advocacy. “Not everyone who menstruates is a woman, and not all women menstruate,” Cole explained.


In addition to providing free products in school, the PERIOD club plans to continue to educate Garfield’s health classes about menstrual health and hopefully attract underclassmen. Merril encourages anyone to be a member, ”If you care about making it so periods are less stigmatized at Garfield, come, join. You don’t have to know a bunch about periods yet, you don’t have to menstruate, you can just come and be informed.”