California Passes Law Requiring Public School Bathrooms to Provide Free Menstrual Products

By Fallon Emmer, Contributing Writer 

// Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Menstrual Equity Act on Oct. 8, requiring free menstrual products in 50 percent of bathrooms in public middle and high schools, community colleges, and the California State University system beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. 

   State assemblymember Cristina Garcia introduced the Menstrual Equity Act, which is an extension of a 2017 law requiring lower-income California schools to provide free menstrual products.

   “Often periods arrive at inconvenient times. Having convenient and free access to these products means our period won’t prevent us from being productive members of society and would alleviate the anxiety of trying to find a product when out in public,” Garcia said in a press release.  

   Acalanes High School currently offers menstrual products in the nurse’s office and the Wellness Center and will continue providing them even after the law becomes implemented in schools. 

   “I’ve always had pads and tampons in my office available to any student that comes in and needs them in the same way that I have band-aids available for kids who need them,” Acalanes School Nurse Dvora Citron said. 

   However, some students are looking forward to having them in the bathrooms instead due to factors like convenience and comfort. 

   “I know tons of people who don’t have access to stuff like tampons and pads at school, and having to frantically ask around if anyone has extras in their bags really sucks. Being able to freely access them would make having periods a lot less stressful in general, and it makes people with periods probably feel more comfortable at school, too,” senior Katrina Ortman said.

By Melaney Noguera

  The law also aims to provide economic relief for those that may not be able to afford period products. Many women experience “period poverty” because they cannot afford the products they need, which may also lead to future medical issues. 

   “Women spend around $18,000 on menstrual products in their lifetime, and that is an insane amount of money. A lot of people don’t have that much money to spare. Especially if you live with your family and there is more than one female, that cost could be doubled or even tripled,” Feminism Club President and junior Sophia Acuff said. 

   Many teachers believe this law will both benefit students and help normalize menstruation. 

   “When I was in high school, we had those quarter machines that have [menstrual products] readily available, but if you didn’t have a quarter, you were out of luck,” Instrumental and Choral Director Lauren Gibson said. “We never really even discussed periods or menstrual products or anything like that when I was in high school other than at home. It’s very different, so this will be positive, and just having [menstrual products] normalized and just a part of school will be great.”

    However, others expressed concerns over whether the free access to menstrual products will be taken advantage of and abused. 

   “Honestly, part of my concern would be that people would just take too many of them, kind of like if you leave a bowl of Halloween candy in front of your house. Maybe one party would take all of them.” Citron said.   

   Despite this, students see this as a step forward in providing equity for all women pursuing an education.

   “Life happens. There will be times when someone will get their period and not have anything on them, and yes, not everyone is comfortable asking for it, but just having the products already provided could be way easier than having to go out of their way to get them themselves, especially at school, ” freshman Charlotte Sutherland said.

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