SAINT PAUL, Minn. – On Wednesday, the Senate Education Policy Committee heard testimony on Senator Steve Cwodzinski’s bill (SF 50) to provide funding for free menstrual products in restrooms used by students in grades 4 through 12 in Minnesota’s public and charter schools. The committee heard testimony in favor of the legislation from a variety of speakers, including eight high school students and alumni.
“I’m sure a lot of us in this room have entered into a [bathroom] stall at some point in our life and noticed that the toilet paper dispenser was empty and [felt the] horror of ‘what am I supposed to do now?’” said Senator Cwodzinski. “For young girls and women, it happens often… We owe it to all those young girls and women to end this stigma to the best of our ability.”
“Tampons and pads aren’t optional; they’re a necessity. They hold the same purpose as toilet paper, which is always free for use,” said Elif Ozturk, a student at Hopkins High School. “Yet these products are not so readily available within the walls of our schools. Why is that, when they make the difference between a normal day and a traumatic one?… This is a low-cost effort that would help so many lives from having to miss out on their right to education.”
Numerous other states have passed or proposed menstrual equity legislation, including Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. In the State Senate’s informal Minnesota State Fair survey, which included 12 questions on legislative priorities, providing free menstrual supplies in school restrooms had a 72% approval, second only to ending the tax on Social Security (74% approval).
After considering testimony and discussing the proposal, the committee passed the bill onto the Education Finance Committee on a voice vote.