Youth advocates push for bill that would ensure free menstrual products in schools
Nationally, 1 in 5 teens cannot afford menstrual products and most have missed school as a result. To address the issue in New Mexico, youth advocates are working with lawmakers to create menstrual equity for every student in public school.
Youth advocates said this lack of access exacerbates New Mexico’s long-standing challenges around poverty and low education rankings because many low-income people struggle to afford menstrual supplies.
House Bill 134 would ensure free menstrual products are available in all elementary, middle, and high schools.
Mireya Macías, one of the youth advocates who worked on this bill, said menstrual inequity disproportionately affects youth and this bill would ensure that at least one women’s, men’s, and gender neutral bathroom per building have supplies.
"This is a public health issue. And if you don’t have those supplies you either have to go home for that issue or you’re just stuck without those products and that can exacerbate the problem, right?" Macías said.
Currently, 20 states have passed similar legislation and Macías said states like New York have seen attendance rates improve. She is hopeful that New Mexico could see similar results. And Students across the country are pushing for similar laws.
The bill seeks $3 million dollars from the general fund for the Public Education Department to purchase products and install dispensers.
The bill has 14 sponsors and is waiting to be heard by the House Education Committee Monday, Jan. 30.
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