The Minnesota Legislature is considering a bill that would require all public and charter schools to make menstrual products available in school bathrooms, including boys’ bathrooms.
“A school district or charter school must provide students access to menstrual products at no charge. The products must be available in restrooms used by students in grades 4 to 12,” the bill states.
Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, proposed an amendment to clarify that the menstrual products should be available in restrooms used by “female” students.
“This is just about practicality. I believe that these products should be most available to those that would use them, girls. This amendment makes that more likely,” he said during a Jan. 11 House Education Committee meeting.
Bill sponsor Rep. Sandra Feist, DFL-New Brighton, urged legislators to reject the amendment.
“There are a lot of schools that are moving towards gender-neutral bathrooms, and if we add ‘female,’ we might become obsolete very quickly,” she explained.
“Second, not all students who menstruate are female,” Feist continued. “We need to make sure all students have access to these products. There are obviously less non-female menstruating students and therefore their usage will be much lower. That was actually calculated into the cost of this.”
According to Feist, non-female menstruators “face a greater stigma and barrier to asking for these products.”
She also said many schools have already started stocking menstrual products in all bathrooms without issue.
Thomas Stinson, a licensed school nurse, agreed with Feist, saying Urdahl’s amendment was “just another way to divide people.”
“This adds another barrier for our kids,” he said. “We want access available for everybody and to add that [amendment] doesn’t make sense to me.”
“This old Norwegian has trouble understanding some of that,” Urdahl responded. His amendment was rejected by the DFL-controlled committee.
Feist said the bill would be funded by a $2 per-pupil increase for each district’s operating capital revenue.
She said many students are missing school because they don’t have access to menstrual products.
“Chronic absenteeism costs a lot more than just paying for free period products,” she said. “We ensure that students have toilet paper, paper towels, soap, and bandaids. We should ensure that students have period products as well.”