A state Senator wants to provide girls and women in Florida public schools access to free tampons and sanitary pads.
Sen. Lauren Book on Friday filed the Learning with Dignity Act (SB 248,) which would apply to all public schools, K-12. If passed and signed into law it would take effect July 1, 2022.
Book’s bill comes on the heels of the California Assembly passing the “Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021” last week. The measure, Assembly Bill 367, recognizes that access to menstrual products is “a basic human right and is vital for ensuring the health, dignity, and full participation of all Californians in public life. “
The Parliament in Scotland last year passed a new law declaring access to menstrual products as a human right and requires all designated public places to provide menstrual products free to anyone who needs them.
Book’s bill isn’t as broadly written as either of those pieces of legislation.
SB 248 notes that menstrual hygiene products cannot be “forgone or substituted easily” and that when students have access to “quality menstrual hygiene products, they are able to continue with their daily lives with minimal interruption.”
At press time there was no companion bill filed in the House.
There have been several in recent years showing that girls and women can struggle to afford menstrual products and that lack of access can jeopardize their learning.
A 2019 study conducted by researchers at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice found that nearly two-thirds of the women surveyed couldn’t afford period-related products and that 46% of them couldn’t afford both food and menstrual hygiene products. Additionally, the study found 21% of the women surveyed lacked supplies on a monthly basis.
Because they lack access some girls miss school as a result of their period. The World Bank found in 2005 that if a girl misses four days of school every month due to her period, she will miss between 10% and 20% percent of her academic career.