A new regional role promoting period dignity across Tayside has been scrapped after the group involved received threats and abuse for appointing a man.
Last month, Jason Grant was announced as the period dignity regional lead officer for the Tay region in what was believed to be the first role of its kind in Scotland and the result of Holyrood’s groundbreaking women’s health legislation.
His appointment was met with an incredulous and sometimes angry response, in particular on social media. The former Wimbledon tennis champion Martina Navratilova posted on Twitter: “This is just f****** ridiculous,” adding: “Have we ever tried to explain to men how to shave or how to take care of their prostate or whatever?!? This is absurd.”
Some commentators immediately linked Grant’s appointment – which was funded by the Scottish government but chosen by a local team of councils and colleges – to recent Holyrood rows over sex and gender.
Period Dignity Working Group, which includes representatives of Dundee and Angus College, Perth College, Angus council and Dundee city council, confirmed on Tuesday that the role, which involved promoting access to free sanitary products in schools and colleges as well as discussing issues around the menopause, would not continue and called for a “spirit of kindness” to be extended to those involved.
A spokesperson for the group said: “It is regrettable that given the threats and abuse levelled at individuals in recent weeks, the period dignity regional lead officer role will not continue. The working group is now looking closely at alternative ways to deliver these vital services.”
“Meanwhile, support will continue to be provided to the colleagues and students who have been subjected to personal attack. Their safety and wellbeing is of paramount importance.
“The group’s joint work to provide free period products is rooted in kindness. We therefore ask that the same spirit of kindness is extended to those involved, and that their privacy is respected.”
Scotland was the first country in the world to provide free and universal access to period products when it passed the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021, which became law in mid-August.
Monica Lennon, the Scottish Labour MSP who spearheaded a four-year campaign that has shifted the public discourse around menstruation, said when the row began that it was important that women’s voices were not crowded out.
“Inclusive period dignity is at the heart of the Period Products Act. Actively promoting universal free access to period products and investing in menstrual health and wellbeing will help eradicate stigma, misogyny and inequality.”
“There’s a role for men taking on leadership roles and contributing to positive and respectful conversations whilst ensuring that the voices of women, girls and people who menstruate are never crowded out.”