Schools districts and charter schools in Minnesota will be required to stock period products in school bathrooms for free use, including in boys’ bathrooms.
At the end of May, Gov. Tim Walz signed into law an education finance bill which includes requirements for schools to provide menstrual products at no charge starting in January 2024.
The bill’s language states that “the products must be available to all menstruating students” in grades four through 12. Each school district must develop a plan to stock pads and tampons in bathrooms “regularly used” by female and male students.
The discussion has been in the Legislature since January, with Republicans aiming to change the language of the bill to require menstrual products for female students only. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sandra Feist, DFL-New Brighton, urged legislators to reject such amendments.
“Not all students who menstruate are female,” Feist said. “We need to make sure all students have access to these products.”
According to Feist, non-female menstruators “face a greater stigma and barrier to asking for these products.”
Feist is one of five authors of an opinion piece titled “Menstruators deserve equity at school.”
The Alliance for Period Supplies tweeted in celebration of the bill passing, thanking Feist for her work to “end period poverty.”
Big News: Minnesota schools will now provide free period products to all students in grades 4-12! Thank you to @SandraFeistMN and our Minnesota allied programs for your incredibly hard work to advocate for our students’ needs and #EndPeriodPoverty. pic.twitter.com/LTinfT8u2u
— Alliance for Period Supplies (@periodsupplies) May 30, 2023
Alliance for Period Supplies, a national organization, declared its support for “all people who menstruate” on June 1, the first day of Pride Month.
Happy Pride Month! Not all women have periods and not all people who have periods are women – the Alliance for Period Supplies is proud to support all people who menstruate as we continue our work to #EndPeriodPoverty. pic.twitter.com/P7DJ66n4nl
— Alliance for Period Supplies (@periodsupplies) June 1, 2023
The education finance bill will increase spending for K-12 education by 10.2 percent over the next two years for a total of $23.2 billion. Some of that increase, about $2 per pupil, will go toward supplying free menstrual products for both male and female students.
Among several new policy changes, the bill also prohibits use of Native American-related language or logos unless an exception is agreed to by all 11 of Minnesota’s tribal nations. Columbus Day will be replaced by Indigenous Peoples’ Day on school calendars.
Republicans say the bill is full of mandates that no school district asked for.