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‘Free Menstrual Products to Students’ bill is introduced in Colorado

A bill that would provide free menstrual products to Colorado middle schools and high schools was introduced on Thursday, Feb. 29. (Justice Necessary/Courtesy Photo)
If passed, the bill would help provide free menstrual products to middle and high schools statewide

On Feb. 29, “Free Menstrual Products to Students, HB24-1164” was introduced in Colorado’s 74th General Assembly, where it was passed and sent to the appropriations committee.

The bill was created by Diane Cushman Neal, founder and president of Colorado-based nonprofit Justice Necessary, in collaboration with four Democrats: Reps. Brianna Titone of Jefferson County and Jenny Willford of Adams County, and Sens. Janet Buckner of Arapahoe County and Faith Winter of Adams, Broomfield and Weld counties.

Diane Cushman Neal, founder and president of Justice Necessary. (Justice Necessary/Courtesy photo)

According to information provided by Prim + Co.’s Emily Tracy, Justice Necessary is a nonprofit “dedicated to combating period poverty and hygiene poverty in Colorado communities.”

Since Justice Necessary’s origin in 2020, the nonprofit has helped provide more than 4,000,000 organic period products, more than 235,000 basic hygiene products and more than 150,000 eco-friendly diapers and wipes, according to Tracy.

Justice Necessary introduced the “Free Menstrual Products to Students” bill to help Colorado middle and high schools provide accessible and free period products to female students enrolled in sixth through 12 grade, which is building upon the already existing “Menstrual Hygiene Products Accessibility Grant Program.”

And the need is great. According to the Colorado Teen Period Poverty Study 2024, 90% of female teens in Colorado have unexpectedly started their period in public without the necessary supplies. Eighty percent of female teens have missed class because of a lack of period products, and 65% of female teens have missed opportunities to participate in before or school activities due to a lack of period supplies.

“As chair of the Senate Education Committee, my focus is on fostering a supportive and equitable environment for Colorado students. This legislation is a crucial step in this direction. It's about ensuring that every student can access the resources they need to succeed, creating a more inclusive and nurturing environment for our community,” Buckner said.

Liz Kotalik speaks on behalf of Justice Necessary Founder Diane Cushman Neal, the creator of the bill. (Justice Necessary/Courtesy Photo)
Sen. Faith Winter, co-prime sponsor in the Senate, speaks out in support of the newly introduced "Free Menstrual Products to Students” bill. (Justice Necessary/Courtesy Photo)
Rep. Jenny Wilford, co-prime sponsor in the Senate advocates for the passing of "Free Menstrual Products to Students” bill. (Justice Necessary/Courtesy Photo)
Rep. Brianna Titone, co-prime sponsor in the House, advocates for the passing of “Free Menstrual Products to Students” bill. (Justice Necessary/Courtesy Photo)

Cushman Neal spoke of the need for students to be able to participate in sports and in their education without their period hindering their efforts.

“Access to period products isn't just about hygiene, it's about empowering students to fully participate in their education, sports, extracurricular activities and all aspects of life, ensuring their potential knows no bounds,” Cushman Neal said.

Wilford echoed Cushman Neal, saying that access to period products will help ease worries of students who don’t have access to period products.

“Ensuring access to period products in schools is a vital component of my commitment to supporting Colorado families and students,” Wilford said. “When students can access period products, they can focus on their education without the worry of menstrual interruptions, ultimately contributing to their overall well-being and success in our state.”

Schools provide items such as toilet paper and other bathroom necessities to their students, and Titone noted that period products should be seen as essential.

"Schools provide essential items like toilet paper and hand soap to address basic bodily needs. It's only logical that we should also ensure students have easy access to period products to support their uninterrupted education and well-being,” Titone said.

"Period products in schools aren't just about convenience; it's a matter of upholding the dignity and well-being of every student. No one should face barriers in their education due to a lack of essential items. We are taking a necessary step toward a more compassionate and inclusive educational environment where every student can thrive,” Winter added.

Before and after the bill’s reading, members and supporters of Justice Necessary stood on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol building holding signs that said, “Periods don’t pause for poverty,” and “Sock it to period poverty.”

Other advocates who have voiced their support of the bill’s passage include the American Academy of Pediatrics-Colorado Chapter, Colorado Education Association, AFT Colorado, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, I Support the Girls, Alliance for Period Supplies, PERIOD., The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Grace Upon Grace Project, Project Distributing Dignity, State Innovation Exchange Action, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Red Equity, Nourish Colorado, State Innovation Exchange Action and The Junior League.

“The pursuit of student learning and engagement is a shared objective: ensuring access to fully stocked restrooms facilitates this crucial endeavor,” said Cushman Neal.

More information about Justice Necessary and the bill can be found at www.justicenecessary.org or by contacting Tracy at emily.t@primtheagency.com or 919.449.4803.