The Legislative Session through A Gender Lens

February 4, 2021

ESPC’s Gender Lens Project is committed to examining policy and legislative action through a gender lens. Which has kept Jen busy through the month of January and into February. Here are just a few of the issues that she’s tracked (in reverse chronological order):

Jen teamed up with former Rep. Sara Burlingame of Wyoming Equality to tackle HB34 and the forced use of the pronoun “he” in Wyoming statute–even when a bill or program is explicitly for women or girls. They write:

The fact that the legislature, which is made up of a hyper majority of men continues to resist the idea tells us that they either see value in keeping the language concentrated on their sex, or there is something troubling about including women.

Read the full column in the February 3, 2021 Casper Star Tribune: Women deserve to be equally recognized in our state statutes.

Jen tackled the Tampon Tax and gender discrimination in statute in the Casper Star Tribune on January 27, 2021 in her column: Tampon tax favors men, who don’t have to pay it. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle ran the same column on January 28th under the headline: Tampon tax bill’s failure further proof we’re not the Equality State. She writes:

Period products are medically necessary — a point reinforced in former President Trump’s CARES Act legislation. Yet they are the only such products subject to sales tax. They also can’t be paid for with food stamps or Medicaid.

Jen partnered with Black Dog Rescue founder and CEO Britney Wallesch to point out why it is that the Executive and Legislative Branches consistently overlook the economic impact of the nonprofit sector. WyoFile ran their column, It’s time to empower and value the women who run Wyoming’s nonprofits, on January 26, 2021.

Our policymakers expect the nonprofit sector to do the heavy lifting for our communities. Address society’s ills. Fill in the gaps for the government. Solve a broken tax policy. Preserve our cultural heritage. Entertain and enrich our lives. Remedy the mistakes of businesses. Provide food, housing, healthcare and safety to underpaid workers damaged by systems built to exploit them.

Back at the beginning of the new year, Jen also weighed in on the spread of COVID-19 and how gender plays a significant role in that spread. You can read more about toxic masculinity and masks here (Unmasking former Rep. Clem’s point) and here (Toxic masculinity a big reason for the spread of COVID-19).

The virulent reaction to public health orders isn’t just about politics, ideology, and conspiracy theories. It is also very much about gender — and archaic notions of what it means to be “masculine.”

And, as budget cuts threaten numerous programs across Wyoming, WyoFile dug into the discussions that restored funding to the Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy–a quasi-military program in Guernsey that mostly helps adolescent boys. Why did this program get spared when other programs didn’t? Again, gender was a factor.

Early childhood education and behavioral intervention programs aim to provide the same outcomes as the WCCA, Simon said, and there’s research to prove it. 

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