Public schools in California must provide free period products in bathrooms thanks to new law

Public schools in California must provide free period products in bathrooms thanks to new law

There are many, many areas the United States trails behind other nations when it comes to taking care of its people; issues concerning menstruation are certainly up there. There have been countless reports, for example, about the tax on menstrual products, like tampons and pads, as well as the unfairness of not having free options available in public restrooms. While some folks argue that people who menstruate should simply always carry extra products with them, that isn’t feasible for all people. For example, low-income folks, students, people with medical conditions that impact their cycle, pregnant folks, and unhoused people who menstruate may have a difficult time both planning ahead and purchasing the needed products. It’s also, to put it lightly, a gamble to realize you’ve begun to menstruate while in public and then scurry off to a store to buy supplies.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom just signed a bill (called the Menstrual Equity for All Act) into law that will hopefully encourage other states to follow suit, as reported by The Washington Post. According to the bill, public colleges and schools in the state must provide free menstrual products in their bathrooms. This will apply to bathrooms for sixth grade to 12th grade as well as state colleges, universities, and community colleges. While it does not require private colleges to do the same, it does encourage them to.

Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who introduced the legislation, stressed in a statement that “our biology” doesn’t always give us a warning for when we’re about to menstruate, and compared menstrual products to items like toilet paper and paper towels. Garcia sponsored the bill after Scotland made international headlines for becoming the first nation in the world to give free period products, as reported by The Week.

Garcia has championed access to menstrual products for years before this, too. For example, it was legislation she introduced in 2017 that resulted in free period products being available in low-income schools in the state. Garcia is also behind the elimination of taxes on menstrual products in California.

In the big picture, period products should be available for free in all schools, homeless shelters, prisons, and related areas. There should not be a “luxury” tax on menstrual products, either. Some cities, like Chicago, have already eliminated taxes on period products. Washington State and Illinois have passed similar bills to Newsom’s, requiring public schools to provide free menstrual products. But there’s still an enormous amount of work to do. 

California’s law goes into effect in the 2022-2023 school year.

If you’re wondering why this article doesn’t refer to, for example, “women’s products” or “menstruating women,” it’s because not all people who have periods are women. For example, a nonbinary person or trans man may menstruate, just like a cisgender woman might not.

Some argue that these distinctions are a matter of semantics, but using broader, more gender-inclusive speech is a reminder that reproductive health is not only about women, but all folks who might need access to things like period products, abortion, wellness exams, and so on. And remember, being inclusive isn’t only about not offending someone or hurting someone’s feelings, but about being factually accurate—women aren’t the only people who appreciate free period products, so they shouldn’t be the only group referenced when the topic comes up. 

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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