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In California’s case, Assembly Bill No. 10 requires schools with “any combination of classes from grade 6 to grade 12” that has a “40 percent pupil poverty threshold” to include feminine hygiene products, like tampons and pads, in 50 percent of all school restrooms. In exchange, the state government will reimburse associated costs. Meanwhile, Illinois’ Public Act 100-0163 calls feminine hygiene products “a health care necessity,” stating that tampons and menstrual pads must be included in public schools bathrooms servicing grades 6 through 12.
“Feminine hygiene products are a health care necessity and not an item that can be foregone or substituted easily,” Illinois’ act explains. “When students do not have access to affordable feminine hygiene products, they may miss multiple days of school every month.”
While charging for period products remains widely common in U.S. schools and public restrooms, Illinois and California aren’t alone in providing menstrual products. New York City mandates free tampons and pads in schools, particularly focusing on low-income students. Meanwhile, Brown University students have pushed for tampons and pads in the men’s room, stressing that trans men can experience periods, too. Slowly (very slowly), the U.S. is finally fighting the taboo on menstruation, one bathroom at a time.
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.