Public schools in Oregon are now required to provide free menstrual products in a gender-affirming way in student bathrooms.
The new program is part of a statewide campaign to support youths suffering from gender dysphoria and to reduce the stigma around menstruation.
Ultimately the state wants menstrual products to be available in every student bathroom in every public school in the state by 2023.
Under House Bill 3294, public schools in Oregon are required to provide tampons and sanitary pads to students for free in at least two student bathrooms during the 2021-2022 school year. The bill was passed in 2021.
The Oregon State Board of Education then passed a set of Oregon Administrative Rules that established where and how the program would be implemented.
“The program helps students participate actively in classes and school activities by alleviating some of the economic strain and experiences of shame that are often barriers for menstruating students accessing their education,” the state government wrote in the Toolkit’s official description dated March 2022. The program’s description emphasizes the need to “inclusivity” and affirming “transgender, intersex, non-binary, and two spirit students.”
All public schools are required to provide menstrual products in a way that meets the “components necessary for privacy, accessibility, and gender inclusivity.”
“Importantly, this law affirms the right to menstrual dignity for transgender, intersex, non-binary, and two spirit students by addressing the challenges that some students have managing menstruation while minimizing negative attention that could put them at risk of harm and navigating experiences of gender dysphoria during menstruation,” the program’s description notes.
Schools are required to install dispensers that will provide tampons and pads to students at no cost in two bathrooms. The dispensers, which could be wall dispensers, countertop baskets or stand-alone storage units, must be “clearly marked as free in at least two languages.”
When deciding where the dispensers should be installed, school administrators are instructed to consider “all-gender access to menstrual products” and “student privacy.”
Under the OARs, the dispensers must be in student bathrooms — which is defined as “a bathroom that is accessible by students, including a gender-neutral bathroom, a bathroom designated for females and a bathroom designated for males.”
During the school year, administrators have the discretion to decide to place the menstrual products in a female-only bathroom and a gender-neutral bathroom to fulfill the legal requirement.
Additionally, the Board of Education recommends schools “affirm and uplift how Tribal Nations and Native American communities recognize and honor this milestone with respect and connect student language (including slang) with medically accurate terminology in order to ensure understanding and cultural responsiveness.”
This requirement applies to all bathrooms in all public high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools in Oregon.
Similar requirements are already in place in California, New York, New Hampshire, Virginia, Illinois, and Washington. Hawaii, Florida, and Michigan are all considering legislation that would require menstrual products to be provided in school bathrooms.