By Bob Katzen
On January 15, 2020, the Education Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would require all public schools from grade 6 through grade 12 to provide free feminine hygiene products in the restrooms. Schools would also be required to ensure that the products are available in a convenient manner that does not stigmatize any student who takes them.
The bill is stuck in the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling.
Medway High School student Caroline Williams asked Rep. Jeff Roy (D-Franklin) to file the bill for her. She had written a paper on the topic for her English class and decided to take the next step.
“I recognized a significant gap in access to feminine hygiene products at school, and as a student, a girl, and a citizen I found it necessary to do something about it,” said Williams. “For women and girls, pads and tampons are just as essential as toilet paper and this bill will ensure that these products are provided for students in the same way. Menstruation is not an illness, but a crucial component of female health and it is important that menstrual products not be located in nurse’s offices but as regular sanitary supplies in bathrooms where they belong.”
“The time has come to recognize the need to offer these products in the restrooms at our schools,” said Roy. “We provide other paper products (toilet paper and hand towels) in the bathrooms as a matter of routine and with no charge. The fact that we would charge people money to use products that are no different than toilet paper or paper towels is clearly a wrong practice. I’m thankful and grateful that a young person came along and gave me an opportunity to help her achieve the necessary change in practice.”