HARTFORD, CT — The Children’s Committee voted to raise 24 concepts as bills Thursday, including one that would require schools to provide period products in bathrooms for students.
Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, said they don’t know exactly what the legislation will look like, but it’s the first year the committee has raised the issue.
According to Always, a manufacturer of period products, nearly one in five U.S. girls have left school, or don’t show up at all, because they had no access to pads or tampons.
There’s a growing movement to reassess public policies and perceptions around menstruation. Groups like PERIOD are seeking greater access to free pads and tampons in Connecticut and across the country.
Rep. Robin Green, R-Marlborough, said they don’t know exactly how they want to draft the bill yet.
It’s unlikely the state would want to pick up the cost of period products for every high school and middle school in the state, but it’s possible they may mandate it and leave it up to local or regional boards of education.
Linehan said if there’s a fiscal note then the legislation would need to go to the Appropriations Committee for further discussion.
Some towns like Greenwich have already taken on this challenge.
Two Greenwich High School seniors, Charlotte Hallisey and Amy Barratt, asked the local school board to stock the girls bathrooms in three public middle schools and the high school with the products.
According to the Greenwich Time, the mandate will cost about $6,000 for the first year and $3,000 for subsequent years.
Hallisey and Barratt are now taking their fight to the state Capitol. The two are circulating an online petition to provide universal access to menstrual hygiene products. The petition had more than 1,244 signatures as of Friday.
“Menstrual hygiene products are basic necessities, and the inability to access them affects a student’s freedom to study, be healthy, and participate in society with dignity,” the petition says. “Studies have shown that when students lack access to menstrual hygiene products they skip or miss class, face embarrassment or objectification because of period stains, and are limited both academically and socially.”
Already the girls have the support of Sens. Alex Bergstein, D-Greenwich, Mary Abrams, Saud Anwar, and Derek Slap, D-West Hartford, who said the initiative is a “no-brainer.”
“This isn’t a women’s issue – it’s an issue of equality, and it’s something that men should be just as interested in and just as supportive of as Amy and Charlotte are,” Slap said last year at a legislative forum on the issue.
New York, California, Illinois and New Hampshire have passed similar mandates.
Connecticut’s Public Health Committee is expected to vote to raise the concept Friday. The concept will then be drafted into specific legislation.