New Hampshire is the latest state that will make tampons and other menstrual products available for free in schools.
Last week, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed into law a measure that requires school boards stock menstrual hygiene products, free of charge, in girls’ and gender-neutral restrooms that are located in the state’s public middle and high schools.
Concerned that girls from low-income families may not be able to pay for period products, causing them to miss school, lawmakers across the country have been pushing for “menstrual equity” legislation. The effort has now been successful in New Hampshire.
“Lack of access to menstrual products undoubtedly impacts a student’s education and self-esteem and causes an estimated one in five American students to stay home from school,” said legislation co-sponsor New Hampshire State Rep. Polly Campion, D-Etna, in a news release. “Providing access to free menstrual care products in public and middle school bathrooms is not idealistic, it’s a basic, essential measure for equality and is long overdue.”
After New York’s law went into effect in July 2018, a statement from governor’s office said, “Many young women in New York lack access to menstrual products, which are as necessary as toilet paper and soap, but hardly ever as available. Due to stigma, many women and girls face an unnecessary barrier to learning. Additionally, studies have shown that lack of awareness of good feminine hygiene practices can result in serious health consequences for women and girls and the United Nations has stated that the right to menstrual hygiene is a human right.”
The statement points out that 42% of New York children live in low-income families, and a month’s supply of menstrual hygiene products can be too much for already struggling families to afford.
On a national level, THINX, a maker of underwear marketed as being “period-proof,” has joined the nonprofit PERIOD in organizing a petition designed to push the U.S. Department of Education to fund programs that will place free period products in schools across the country. So far, more than 109,000 people have signed the petition.
Another organization, Period Equity, is leading a national campaign to eliminate the “tampon tax,” arguing that tampons and pads are necessities for girls and women, yet 35 states still impose taxes on them.