Washington schools required to provide menstrual products

Rachel Matteson, News Editor

On May 3, Governor Inslee signed bill HB1273, issuing an instruction that all schools in Washington must provide free menstrual products by the beginning of the 2022 to 2023 school year. These products will be available in female designated restrooms, as well as gender-neutral restrooms. If there is no gender-neutral bathroom available, they must be placed somewhere that male students have access to. 

The passing of this bill is significant to students in many different ways. The first is how it addresses the stigma surrounding periods and menstrual products. 

Half the population has periods, and not talking about them isn’t going to make them go away and only leads to toxicity for those who menstruate. There were studies done in a few other countries, and nearly 50% of young girls had no idea what periods were until they got theirs,” freshman Hannah Vieth said. “While I would love to think that happens on a smaller scale here, it still happens, and menstruators shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of something normal because of a stigma around it.”

This bill will also be very significant to those who struggle with period poverty. In the Issaquah School District, it’s been estimated that around 15% of students experience this. Period poverty affects those who have difficult times affording or accessing products related to menstruation; this has been known to affect their education. 

“If a student is worried about access to a product or has an unexpected period start, it can 100% impact concentration, focus, and ability to stay at school,” counselor April Flores said. 

While this bill will be helpful in many different ways, how can we ensure that this process will be equitable for everyone?

“The new law incorporates requirements for students who have periods and don’t use the female restroom. I think that’s a really important aspect for transgender students and any other students that may not feel comfortable using the female restroom,” Vieth said.

Although there’s still progress that needs to be made on the road to destigmatizing periods, this bill is just another step in the process. 

“This is a normal part of life that women have no control over and have to deal with. That should just be understood,” Flores said.