A bill that would have public schools with grades 6-12, as well as state colleges, carry free menstrual products in school restrooms was unanimously passed by the Assembly on Thursday, sending the bill to the Governor’s desk.
Assembly Bill 367, authored by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), would specifically expand upon the 2017 AB 10 law, which was also written by Garcia. Current legislation publics with grades 6-12 to have free feminine hygiene products such as tampons in at least 50% of all bathrooms, with public schools also prohibited from charging anything for any such product given to students.
AB 367, also known as the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021, would change the law to have free menstrual products in all schools with grade grades 6 and up in all women’s and all gender bathrooms. At least one men’s bathroom would also need to be stocked.
The bill would also cover California State universities and public community colleges and require them to have free feminine hygiene products available from at least one central location on each campus. In all cases, AB 367 would come into effect for the 2022-2023 school year.
“Often periods arrive at inconvenient times,” explained Garcia on Thursday. “They can surprise us during an important midterm, while playing with our children at a park, sitting in a lobby waiting to interview for a job, shopping at the grocery store, or even standing on the Assembly floor presenting an important piece of legislation.”
“Convenient access would alleviate the anxiety of trying to find a product when out in public.”
Garcia also added in a tweet on Friday that “periods arrive at random times & for many low income people, these essentials aren’t accessible. My bill AB 367 alleviates anxiety tied to looking for a product while at school.”
Periods arrive at random times & for many low income people, these essentials aren’t accessible. My bill #AB367 alleviates anxiety tied to looking for a product while at school. Hope @CAgovernor 🖋 & makes history for all who menstruate🩸#PeriodPrincesshttps://t.co/o7b1JJaWOm
— Cristina Garcia (@AsmGarcia) September 10, 2021
A bipartisan supported bill
AB 367 has enjoyed bipartisan support since being introduced in February, with no serious opposition having been levied against the bill throughout it’s legislative run. Besides two nay votes in the Senate vote on Wednesday, every Assembly, Senate, and respective committee votes have had total support, including the 79-0 Assembly vote on Thursday.
“This is one of those state level bills that are not easily argued against,” explained Carla Rivers, an analyst who keeps track of “pink tax” and menstrual product laws in the US, to the Globe on Thursday. “In California this go around, they changed the bill to make it more about being a right to have them and to have them be available in places for transgender students and even in men’s rooms to cover those students, as well as have an area where they would likely be available in case of a shortage.
“To many, it’s like not including toilet paper in a public bathroom, or not including urinals for men. It just makes things more difficult. And both parties in California see that need.”
AB 367 is now on the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom, where it is widely accepted that he will sign it into law.