Public school students in New Hampshire will be provided with free menstrual products thanks to the passage of a new law.
SB 142, signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Chris Sununu, will require public schools to provide feminine hygiene products in women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms in high schools and middle schools starting January 1, The Concord Monitor reported.
“This legislation is about equality and dignity,” Sununu said. “SB 142 will help ensure young women in New Hampshire public schools will have the freedom to learn without disruption – and free of shame, or fear of stigma.”
The idea for the law came from 17-year-old Caroline Dillon, a high school student in Rochester, N.H. The high schooler was inspired to act after learning in U.S. History class about "period poverty," where those who can't afford feminine hygiene products miss work or school during menstruation.
“It was sad to think about,” Dillon told The Monitor. “Girls in middle and high school would never dream of telling somebody that they have to miss school or use socks because they can’t pay for pads.”
Dillon approached state Sen. Martha Hennessey with her idea, and Hennesey became a main sponsor of the bill.
Educating some lawmakers was initially awkward, Dillon said. Most lawmakers are men, and wanted to avoid words like "menstruation," "tampon" and "feminine hygiene products," The Monitor reported.
“They would say ‘the thing’ or just try to avoid saying it all together,” Dillon said. “I would say to them, ‘If this makes you uncomfortable, think about how uncomfortable it is to be in this situation yourself. If you can't really picture it yourself, think about any woman in your life: your mom, your daughter, your aunt – think about how uncomfortable she feels – you are in the position to make it so these women don’t have to feel that way.’ ”
Dillon's efforts were ultimately successful.
Funding for the new measure will come from school districts' budgets, according to CNN. Districts can partner with nonprofit organizations to provide the feminine hygiene products.
Opponents of the bill said its amounts to an unconstitutional unfunded mandate, USA Today reported.
Similar laws currently exist in New York, Illinois and California.
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