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Moving Past Taboos, Lawmakers Debate Whether to Provide Menstrual Products in Schools

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Flickr/Marco Verch
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Lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would require schools to provide tampons and pads in restrooms for free.

The proposed legislation began when Rochester high schooler Caroline Dillon realized last year that her peers were skipping school when menstruating because they couldn't afford menstrual products.

Dillon and Democratic lawmakers crafted SB142, requiring public middle and high schools to provide menstrual products in female bathrooms.

Women's health advocates have praised the bill for breaking taboos about the topic, and putting New Hampshire ahead of most states' policies on menstural products in schools.

In a House Education Committee session on Tuesday, most Republicans said this was an important issue, but because it was an unfunded mandate, they couldn't support it.

 

“This is probably the most important bill for young women we’re going to have this year," said Republican Dan Wolf of Newbury. "I think if we really believe in it, we should pay for it as a state.”

Wolf proposed an amendment that would encourage school districts to partner with a non-profit or product manufacturer to get menstrual products for free. That amendment did not pass.

There are no hard numbers on what the bill would cost districts. Right now, menstrual products are provided in most nurses' offices, but not in most school bathrooms.

The bill is now headed for a final vote in the full House, where it's expected to pass.

(This post was updated May 1 with the addition of an audio version of the story.)

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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