Sen. Lauren Book filed a bill last week that would require school districts to make feminine hygiene products are available in public school bathrooms.
SB 242, known as the “Learning with Dignity Act,” mandates schools have sanitary napkins, pads and tampons in female restrooms in all of Florida’s K-12 public schools. Under the bill, the products must be made available at no cost.
“One in five girls have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to menstrual products,” Book said, citing a recent survey. “Girls pay a price when these products aren’t free — and providing them will go a long way toward equity in education.”
The Plantation Democrat filed a similar bill last ahead of the 2020 Legislative Session, but it was never heard in committee. Rep. Michael Grieco, a Miami Beach Democrat, sponsored companion legislation that also went without a hearing.
A news release from Book’s office said women typically spend $150 to $300 a year on feminine hygiene products, which can put a financial strain on low-income students and their families.
The cost barrier particularly impacts the 23% of Florida children who live below the poverty line and 66% of public-school children who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch.
The legislation is also similar to a bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year — the “Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act.” That law requires Florida jails and prisons to provide menstrual products to female inmates at no cost.
The new bill was announced alongside an endorsement from Ashley Eubanks of the Beauty Initiative, a South Florida-based nonprofit that has provided more than 400,000 feminine hygiene products to women and girls in need.
“A period should end a sentence; it shouldn’t end education,” she said. “Sen. Book’s Learning with Dignity bill will ensure hygiene is not a luxury for girls in Florida’s public schools.”
SB 242 is the latest effort in Book’s pro-women-and-girls legislative agenda.
Book is also sponsoring legislation to allow Medicaid coverage for donor breastmilk from milk banks (SB 240), extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum care (SB 238), and keep children safe from sexual predators (SB 234).