BOSTON, SHNS. (WWLP) – Massachusetts schools would need to provide disposable menstrual products to their students free of charge under a bill recently advanced by the Education Committee.
The bill, now before the House Steering, Policy and Scheduling Committee, would apply to elementary and secondary public schools that serve students in grades six through 12. It’s a redrafted version of legislation originally proposed by Franklin Rep. Jeffrey Roy. Roy worked with a constituent, Caroline Williams of Medway, to file the bill.
Williams, who graduated from Medway High School last year, first researched the topic of access to menstrual products for a class and realized the same products weren’t widely available in her school. Both Roy’s original bill and the Education Committee version (H 4293) direct schools to “work to ensure that such products shall be available in a convenient manner that does not stigmatize any student seeking such product.”
Last year, before a hearing on the bill, Williams said the language about stigma was an important component to her. The bill calls for menstrual products to be made available specifically in school bathrooms, and Williams said she didn’t want schools to put them in the nurse’s office, where students would need to make a special push.
“It’s not an illness. It’s not something that’s wrong with you,” she told the News Service in May. “It’s a regular thing and it should be in the bathroom and should be free.” – Katie Lannan, SHNS