Freely accessible menstrual products will be available to menstruators in middle and high schools across the state of Virginia.
Lawmakers have approved a bill requiring that menstrual products be freely available to menstruators in need at public schools across the state of Virginia. Funding for menstrual products has previously existed through the public school systems of Virginia, but until now, menstrual products were kept in nurses offices. The new bill requires public schools to include freely available menstrual products in bathrooms for grades 5 through 12 in the hopes of reducing missed school time and menstrual accidents.
Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax is the chief patron of Virginia’s menstrual movement.
“This is a necessity and girls can’t carry out their school day without [menstrual products],” Boysko said during a committee meeting. “Some girls are missing school time and end up going home and missing classes because of these kinds of challenges.”
Virginia school board officials like Karen Keys-Gamarra have pointed out the importance of recognizing menstruation as a normal bodily function, and not something that requires the school nurse. Keys-Gamarra stated,
“We typically provided menstrual supplies in the nurse’s office, which was, in my opinion, inappropriate in that we were treating this bodily function as something you need to see a nurse for.”
Affordability of menstrual products has long been a point of contention between advocates and lawmakers. The main sticking point has been funding – with VA Finance Committee members being unwilling to pass legislation that would result in a loss of tax revenue for the state. Menstrual product tax was finally standardized in 2019 by the Dignity Act – lowering the sales tax to 2.5% statewide.
It is still important to note that even with a lower tax rate many families simply cannot afford sanitary products, and menstrual products are not covered by government assistance programs. During a committee meeting Boysko stated,
“There are students here in Virginia… who are not able to get to school because they don’t have the products, they can’t afford them.”
The Bill VA SB232, which was passed by the General Assembly of Virginia on April 6, 2020, offers convenience and menstrual security for nearly 630,000 students across 132 school districts simply by making menstrual products free and accessible.
There are four other states across the country that have moved to require free menstrual products in schools. With the passage of this bill in the house, Virginia is poised to become the fifth.
Learn how Aunt Flow’s Menstrual Product System can support your school in implementing free menstrual products in bathrooms. Take a look HERE.
Language is important.
We choose to be inclusive.
We are actively changing our language to create a gender inclusive community. We refer to all period products as ‘menstrual products’ instead of ‘feminine hygiene products’.