The days of scrambling to find quarters for the tampon machine are over for students in California. As ABC News reports, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law requiring public schools and colleges to provide free period products in their restrooms.
The bill, called the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021, is an expansion of a 2017 law mandating free pads and tampons in schools serving low-income communities. Under the new act, all community colleges, state colleges, and public schools grades six through 12 will be obligated to provide the same hygiene products to students at no cost.
Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia sponsored the bill. “Just as toilet paper and paper towels are provided in virtually every public bathroom, so should menstrual products,” she said in a statement. “It is time we recognize and respond to the biology of half the population by prioritizing free access to menstrual products, and eliminating all barriers to them.”
According to Garcia, the Menstrual Equity for All Act was inspired by similar legislation passed in Scotland. Last year, it became the first country to provide universal period products to its citizens. The California bill also mirrors laws in New York in Illinois, where some public schools are also required to provide free pads and tampons.
California has a history of pushing for period equity for its menstruating residents. In 2020, it eliminated its so-called “tampon tax”—a sales tax that was added to menstrual products and waived from other hygiene products deemed essential. The Menstrual Equity for All Act will make period products accessible to even more people when it goes into effect in the 2022 to 2023 school year.
[h/t ABC News]