New law requires free tampons and pads in Oregon schools
The Menstrual Dignity Act was passed by the Oregon Legislature and signed into law on Tuesday, July 27.
House Bill 3294 requires every public education provider to have tampons and pads available at no cost in all student restrooms.
For this upcoming school year, the bill will only require schools to have menstrual products available in at least two restrooms. The rule will then expand to require all public school restrooms to have at least one dispenser by July 7, 2021.
The bill was introduced by East Multnomah County freshman legislator Ricki Ruiz and six other chief sponsors and 10 additional sponsors.
Ruiz just completed his freshman term as a lawmaker. Ruiz also sits on the Reynolds School District school board.
According to Ruiz, D-Gresham, this was the fourth time a bill dealing with menstrual products in schools has been attempted.
"Thousands of student activists across Oregon have been pushing for this bill for years," said Ruiz. "I think we found a resolution that supports all students in Oregon."
Illinois, New Hampshire, California and New York have similar laws.
According to a fact sheet on the bill, 13 percent of children live below the poverty level in Oregon, and one in five teens cannot afford feminine hygiene products.
In a press release from Portland-based menstrual equity organization, Period, 16 percent of students have chosen to buy menstrual products over food or clothes as a result of the pandemic. This impacted Latinx, rural, low income, and college students the hardest.
"While we were investigating the issue we heard some terrible stories of bullying and harassment around not having period products," Ruiz said. "A study found that one in four students who have their periods will miss school because of a lack of period products."
Ruiz hopes that the new bill will increase attendance and ease some of the financial stress that comes with a lack of feminine hygiene products.
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