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Washington state to provide free menstrual hygiene products in school bathrooms

The Hill logo The Hill 5/6/2021 Marina Pitofsky
Washington state to provide free menstrual hygiene products in school bathrooms © Getty Images Washington state to provide free menstrual hygiene products in school bathrooms

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) this week signed legislation requiring that schools in the state provide free menstrual products to students.

HB 1273 mandates that both public school districts and private schools "make menstrual hygiene products available at no costs" in both female and gender-neutral bathrooms for "grades six through twelve" by the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.

If a school building does not have a gender-neutral bathroom, than the products must also be available in at least one bathroom designated for men and boys or in a school health room. Schools with grades three through five also must also have the products available, but they do not have to be in bathrooms.

The hygiene products listed in the legislation include tampons, sanitary napkins and "similar items."

The legislation also applies to colleges and universities, which must provide the products for free in all gender-neutral bathrooms and bathrooms designated for women and girls.

The legislation was introduced in January, before passing Washington's House in February and Senate in April.

"This bill will help students maintain a safe and healthy standard of personal hygiene while at school, which is particularly important for students who struggle to afford the cost of paying for these products," Inslee said before signing the legislation on Monday.

The governor last year signed legislation eliminating sales tax on menstrual products. The measure went into effect in July 2020.

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