A bill that would put free menstrual products in the bathrooms of all public schools has passed the legislature and is headed for the governor’s desk.
Supporters say the bill will help address the problem of period poverty, which directly affects the ability of young people to consistently access education.
Period inequity for young adults can lead to chronic absenteeism. A study found more than 4 in 5 teens have missed class or know someone who has missed class because of a lack of access to period products.
Marly Fisher is one of the high school students working to pass House Bill 134. She told lawmakers the bill provides access to health care and pointed out that period poverty particularly affects the 84% of students in the state who attend a Title I-eligible school. These are schools where at least 40% of students are from low-income families.
“Menstruation is a source of shame, of stigma, that it is a criminally misunderstood biological function. By giving menstruators something that is so imperative for their health, we can change this narrative” Fisher said.
The bill passed the Senate on a 27-13 vote. Some opponents had problems with part of the bill that mandates period products be in at least one boy’s bathroom in each school.
“I don’t want to cause any more confusion to our kids. The boys are actually not going to use these,” said Sen. David Gallegos, (R-Eunice), who opposed the bill in committee. “They may take them home, they may stuff them in an exhaust pipe, they may stuff them down the toilet so it can expand. The girls will look at these as a necessity, the boys won’t.”
All 13 votes against passage were Republican senators who feared that having menstrual products in boys bathrooms creates a path towards “unified” bathrooms.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has until April 7 to act on the bill or it’s pocket vetoed.