A bill in the California Legislature would require public universities, community colleges, and secondary schools in the state to provide free menstrual products on campus. The bill notes that the complimentary period products are not only for girls and women, but also intended to be used by biological males, including "transgender men, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people who may also menstruate."
Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, a Democrat representing the 58th Assembly District, introduced AB-367, the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021.
The Menstrual Equity Act of 2021 would require "all public schools serving students in grades 6 to 12, the California State University (CSU) and each California Community College (CCC) district, and public agencies that maintain restrooms facilities for the public and for employees, to stock at least 50% of restrooms with feminine hygiene products at all times and requests the Regents of the University of California (UC) and private higher education institutions to do the same."
"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 bill states. "Inadequate menstrual support is associated with both health and psychosocial issues, particularly among low-income people. A lack of access to menstrual products can cause emotional distress, physical infection, and disease."
The bill makes it known that the menstrual products are not only for females, but also for biological males.
"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 bill reads.
"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.
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.
The bill also encourages institutions of higher education to "post a notice regarding these provisions in a prominent and conspicuous location in all women's restrooms and all-gender restrooms and in at least one men's restroom."
If passed, schools would be forced to provide free menstrual products on or before the start of the 2022–23 school year.
According to Senate Appropriations:
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.
This isn't the first time Garcia attempted to require California colleges to provide free menstrual products. In 2017 she introduced another bill requiring colleges to provide free period products, but that was reportedly cut due to budget concerns, Campus Reform reported.