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Governor reminds schools of new law requiring them to provide feminine hygiene products

Posted 18 September 2018 at 11:50 am

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has reminded school leaders of a new law requiring all school districts, serving students grades 6 through 12, to provide free feminine hygiene products in restrooms.

As the 2018-19 school year begins, this new law will ensure all young women across the State have equal access to these essential products.

“New York leads the nation is breaking down barriers to equality, and this legislation is a critical step forward in ensuring every girl in New York has the same opportunities to grow into a confident, successful woman,” Cuomo said. “By providing all students with equal access to these products, we are creating a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

The legislation, which was part of Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Opportunity Agenda, went into effect July 1, 2018. Feminine hygiene products are personal care products used by menstruating women, including but not limited to menstrual pads and tampons. Public school districts, in consultation with their school nurse or medical director, must determine the types of products to make available to students.

Research from the World Bank demonstrates that girls’ inability to manage their menstrual hygiene in school results in absenteeism, which in turn has severe economic costs on their lives.

Many young women in New York lack access to menstrual products, which are as necessary as toilet paper and soap, but hardly ever as available. Due to stigma, many women and girls face an unnecessary barrier to learning.

Additionally, studies have shown that lack of awareness of good feminine hygiene practices can result in serious health consequences for women and girls and the United Nations has stated that the right to menstrual hygiene is a human right.

This new law makes New York State a leader in addressing issues of inequality and stigma, ensuring that no girl’s learning is hindered by lack of access to the products she needs. In New York, 42 percent of children live in low-income families, and even a month’s supply of these products can too be much for struggling families to afford.

“Stigma and a lack of access to feminine hygiene products negatively impacts teen girls who miss valuable class time—sometimes days—because the items they need are not readily available,” said State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “By providing free menstrual products in school bathrooms, we are removing barriers for some of our most vulnerable girls, helping them feel more confident and ensuring they spend more time in school.”

For more information on feminine hygiene products in schools, click here.

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