Washington Schools Now Have To Provide Students With Free Sanitary Products By Law
A new law has been passed that requires schools in Washington to provide their students with free sanitary products from the beginning of the 2022/2023 school year.
The legislation, simply named House Bill 1273, was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on Monday, May 3.
The products that will be legally required to be available at both public and private schools include sanitary napkins, tampons or similar items. These rules also apply to colleges and universities.
While House Bill 1273 states that these products are to be available in female bathrooms, it states that they must also be located in gender-neutral bathrooms, KXLY reports.
If a school with students in grades six through 12 does not have a gender-neutral bathroom, then the sanitary products must be available in at least one bathroom that’s accessible to male students, or in a school health room.
Meanwhile, for schools with young students in grades three to five, it’s advised that the products are located in a health room, or in a different place that’s to be chosen by the school’s principal.
The law’s passing comes after a survey was conducted into the problems menstruating teens face. As part of the proposal for the legislation, Harris Insights & Legislation found that of 1,000 students aged between 13 to 19, one in five of them struggled to afford sanitary products.
However, students aren’t just facing financial struggles in regards to period products – many are facing societal issues too. The survey found that 84% of respondents knew someone who had skipped class or had skipped class themselves due to not having access to sanitary products, and that 71% felt self-conscious when they were on their period.
In addition to this, more than four in five teens who took part in the study felt that the lack of access to period products is an issue that is not talked about enough. With this in mind, 64% believed society teaches people to be ashamed of their periods.
Prior to the legislation being passed this week, bill sponsor Rep. April Bergs said, as per The Olympian, ‘The effects of lack of access to menstrual hygiene products includes the risk of infection, emotional anxiety, and logistical challenges. And through HB 1273, menstruating students will have free access to these products in schools, allowing them to better focus on their education.’
Washington joins the likes of California, Illinois, New York and New Hampshire in giving students access to free period products.
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