Rich Pedroncelli / AP
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California public schools and colleges must stock their bathrooms of free menstrual products under a bill signed Friday by Governor Gavin Newsom.
The initiative comes as women’s rights advocates push across the country for affordable access to pads, tampons and other items.
California’s latest effort forms a law in 2017 requiring low-income schools in non-permitted areas to provide students with free menstrual products.
It expands the law to include grades 6 through 12, community colleges and the California State University and University of California systems, beginning in the 2022-23 school year. It urges private schools and colleges to follow suit.
“Our biology doesn’t always send out an advanced warning when we’re about to start menstruating, which often means we have to stop whatever we’re doing and deal with it for a while,” Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said of her law. . “Just as toilet paper and paper towels are provided in almost every public restroom, so are menstrual products.”
There are many other states considered or required free menstrual products in public schools, according to the advocacy group Women’s Voices for the Land. Purdue University in Indiana decided last year to offer free women’s hygiene products in campus restrooms.
“California joins a growing number of states that are leading the way in showing that menstruation is a human rights issue,” the group advocacy TIME said in the statement. “No student should be lost in school time because of their time, period.”
California also previously repealed a tax on menstrual products that cost women an estimated combined $ 20 million a year.
Women’s Voices for the Earth says more than half of the states still tax menstrual products as a “luxury” item. Around the world, many countries have removed such taxes, including Britain, Australia, Canada and India.