California to require free menstrual products in public school and college restrooms

SACRAMENTO – California public schools and universities must stock their bathrooms with free menstrual products under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The move comes as women’s rights advocates across the country push for affordable access to sanitary pads, tampons and other items.

California’s latest effort builds on a 2017 law that requires low-income schools in underserved areas to provide students with free menstrual products.

Expands the law to include grades 6-12, community colleges, and the California State University and University of California systems, beginning in the 2022-23 school year. Encourage private schools and universities to follow suit.

“Our biology doesn’t always send an early warning when we’re about to start menstruating, which often means we have to stop what we’re doing and deal with a period,” Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said of her legislation. “Just as toilet paper and paper towels are provided in virtually all public restrooms, menstrual products should also be provided.”

Several other states were considering or have required free menstrual products in public schools, according to advocacy group Women’s Voices for the Earth. Purdue University in Indiana decided last year to offer free feminine hygiene products in campus bathrooms.

“California joins a growing number of states leading the way in demonstrating that menstrual equity is a human rights issue,” advocacy group PERIOD said in a statement. “No student should miss out on learning time due to their periods, period.”

California also previously repealed a tax on menstrual products that costs women an estimated total of $ 20 million a year.

Women’s Voices for the Earth says that more than half of the states still tax menstrual products as a “luxury” item. Around the world, many countries have eliminated such taxes, including Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and India.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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