A California state lawmaker has proposed a bill that would require menstrual products be made available at many public schools and other facilities that provide public restrooms to all “people who menstruate,” regardless of gender identity.
Under the Menstrual Equity Act of 2021, which was introduced by Democrat Assemblywoman Christina Garcia, “all public schools serving students in grades 6 to 12, the California State University (CSU) and each California Community College (CCC) district, and public agencies that maintain restrooms facilities for the public and for employees” would be required “to stock at least 50% of restrooms with feminine hygiene products at all times and requests the Regents of the University of California (UC) and private higher education institutions to do the same.”
“California recognizes that access to menstrual products is a basic human right and is vital for ensuring the health, dignity, and full participation of all Californians in public life,” the proposed legislation states. “Inadequate menstrual support is associated with both health and psychosocial issues, particularly among low-income people. A lack of access to menstrual products can cause emotional distress, physical infection, and disease.”
The bill is clear that the proposal is not just intended for women’s restrooms, and strives to “normalize menstruation among all genders” and that “The provision of menstrual products in schools helps ensure California provides equal access to education and enables students to reach their full potential, irrespective of gender.”
“California has an interest in promoting gender equity, not only for women and girls, but also for transgender men, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people who may also menstruate and experience inequities resulting from lack of access to menstrual products,” the bill states.
The bill would also require that a conspicuous notice be placed in all women’s rooms and at least one men’s room at a given facility making the availability of menstrual products clearly known.
According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, if passed, the bill’s requirement for community college campuses to provide these products for free would set the state back between $57,500 and $115,000 annually. Estimates for the UC system to do so are in the “low tens of thousands” while those for the CSU system are between $750,000 and $800,000.
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