California Poised to Become First State to Offer Free Menstrual Products to Men in Public Schools

California taxpayers may soon be spending millions for public schools to offer free menstrual products to all students, even men.

“California recognizes that access to menstrual products is a basic human right and is vital for ensuring the health, dignity, and full participation of all Californians in public life,” the text of AB-367 states.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who represents California’s 58th district and drafted the bill, has argued that menstrual products are a “basic human right” and must be provided to everyone, even if they do not have a uterus.

“California has an interest in promoting gender equity, not only for women and girls, but also for transgender men, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people who may also menstruate and experience inequities resulting from lack of access to menstrual products.”

“The provision of menstrual products in schools helps ensure California provides equal access to education and enables students to reach their full potential, irrespective of gender,” AB-367 claims.

Metrovoice News reports that “the bill will attempt to ‘normalize menstruation among all genders.'”

“It is the intent of the Legislature that this act provide for the health, dignity, and safety of menstruating students at every socioeconomic level, normalize menstruation among all genders, and foster gender competency in California schools, colleges, and universities,” the bills reads.

Garcia estimated the cost of her plan to be around $700,000-800,000. The Senate Appropriations estimated the cost of this proposal to be much higher than that estimate.

This bill could result in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund costs of approximately $2 million for school districts to install or modify menstrual product dispensers, and additional ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund costs of about $1.3 million each year to provide free menstrual products. School districts may also incur additional, unknown costs to comply with the bill’s restroom noticing requirements. These costs are likely to be deemed reimbursable by the Commission on State Mandates. The Chancellor’s Office estimates Proposition 98 General Fund costs of between $57,500 and $115,000 annually to provide free menstrual products at a centralized location on the 115 community college campuses. There could also be additional one-time costs, likely to be minor, for campuses to comply with the bill’s noticing requirements. The UC estimates General Fund costs in the low tens of thousands of dollars annually to comply with the bill’s requirements, while the CSU indicates General Fund costs of between $750,000 to $800,000 each year to provide additional menstrual products for its health centers.

Campus Reform notes that “this is not Garcia’s first attempt at requiring California colleges to provide free menstrual products. In 2017 she introduced another bill requiring colleges to provide free menstrual products, but that was cut due to budget concerns.”

“In addition to public universities, the bill would also apply to secondary schools. It is backed by Free The Period organization and the Cal State Student Association,” the report continues.

If the bill passes, it will go into effect on or before the start of the 2022–23 school year.

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