Friday, 17 May 2024

Governor signs Menstrual Equity for All Act

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 367, the groundbreaking Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021.

AB 367 will require all public schools serving students in grades 6 to 12, Community Colleges, & California State Universities to stock restrooms with an adequate supply of free menstrual products, commencing in the 2022-23 school year.

“Our biology doesn’t always send an advanced warning when we’re about to start menstruating, which often means we need to stop whatever we’re doing and deal with a period. Often periods arrive at inconvenient times. They can surprise us during an important midterm, while playing with our children at a park, sitting in a lobby waiting to interview for a job, shopping at the grocery store, or even standing on the Assembly Floor presenting an important piece of legislation. Having convenient and free access to these products means our period won’t prevent us from being productive members of society, and would alleviate the anxiety of trying to find a product when out in public,” said Assembly member Garcia.

During Assembly member Garcia’s tenure in the California State legislature, as the self-proclaimed Period Princess, she has been and continues to be a vocal champion and advocate of period dignity policies.

In 2017, the Assembly member successfully passed and had legislation signed into law to ensure low-income schools in disadvantaged communities provide students with free menstrual products.

In addition, Assembly member Garcia led the successful effort to permanently eliminate the tax charged on menstrual health products in AB 150 (2021, Chapter 82) of the 2021-22 State Budget Act.

This effort started an international movement to rectify the discriminatory taxation of menstrual products, which cost Californians born with a uterus over $20 million annually.

Garcia is committed to continue the fight to ensure that having a uterus is no longer stigmatized by misunderstanding, bias, or fear.

AB 367 was inspired by the trail blazing actions of Scotland, where Parliament adopted The Period Products (Free Provision) on Nov. 24, 2020. Scotland’s new law declared access to menstrual products as a human right and requires all designated public places to provide menstrual products free of charge to anyone who needs them.

“Last year, Scotland showed the world this pioneering policy can be passed, with bipartisan support, and become law. I propose we build upon California’s prior menstrual equity laws by declaring that access to menstrual products is a human right and expand access. Just as toilet paper and paper towels are provided in virtually every public bathrooms, so should menstrual products. It is time we recognize and respond to the biology of half the population by prioritizing free access to menstrual products, and eliminating all barriers to them,” said Garcia.

Numerous groups pledged its support of the bill and praised Garcia’s effort to bring attention to the topic of menstrual equity.

“We’re proud that California has taken this step to advance menstrual equity by bringing AB 367 into fruition. By providing direct access to free menstrual products in public schools, we are ensuring more equal access to education and encouraging all students to reach their fullest potential. CASC is grateful to be a part of this progress and we thank Assemblymember Garcia for championing this effort and making it possible for #MenstrualEquityforAll,” said Catherine Xu, California Association of Student Councils.

“Passing AB 367 prioritizes the health and dignity of thousands of California students and recognizes access to menstrual products as a basic need. By removing this significant barrier for young people, we are one step closer to realizing true equal access to education for all students, regardless of gender, race, or economic status,” said Ariana Rodriguez, policy counsel, ACLU of Southern California.

“The signing of AB 367 is a win for students and families statewide. We're immensely proud of the role high school and college women in IGNITE played in championing menstrual equity for all,” said Sara Guillermo, CEO, IGNITE.

"Across our communities, girls and gender-expansive youth lack access to the means to manage their menstrual health with dignity. This is a groundbreaking win made all the more vital because of the pandemic, and will ensure that everyone who does get a period has the right to affordable, accessible, and safe period products,” said Emma Mayerson, founding executive director of Alliance for Girls.

"With the help of legislators, AB 367 was initiated and lobbied by youth activists, who are the leaders of the menstrual movement. California represents the largest state population of menstruators in the country, and the fifth largest economy in the world. California joins a growing number of states who lead the way in demonstrating that menstrual equity is a matter of human rights. This policy will move us all closer to eliminating period poverty and period stigma in our lifetime. It’s feasible and possible. PERIOD. is proud to stand with California to change thousands of lives for the better. By providing menstrual products in schools, California will help ensure its students have equal access to education and are empowered to reach their full potential, irrespective of their gender or economic status,” said Michela Bedard, PERIOD; Executive Director and Damaris Pereda, PERIOD. National grams Director.

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