Menstrual products to be available free of charge

A bill was sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom that would require colleges in California to give their students free menstrual products.

By Edward Segal, Staff Writer

A bill sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom calls for colleges in California to provide free menstrual products to students. If signed, it will go into effect on Jan.1. (Graphic by Don Anthony/The Valley Star)

If students are in need of menstrual products at any of the nine LACCD campuses, they will soon have access to these products for free in women’s and non-gendered restrooms, as proposed in a bill sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 9.

The bill, sent by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), titled “Menstrual Equity,” would require colleges in California to provide menstrual products to students free of charge, according to NPR. The Family Resource Center at Valley College started distributing free feminine hygiene products to people last year, but if this new bill is signed, starting Jan. 1 students will no longer need to show their school ID to sign in and receive the products.

Assemblywoman Garcia wrote on the necessity of the bill in a press release.

“Often periods arrive at inconvenient times,” said Garcia. “Having convenient and free access to these products… would alleviate the anxiety of trying to find a product when out in public.”

Former members of Valley’s Associated Student Union have urged the college to provide free pads and tampons, but it wasn’t until last year that they succeeded in getting students the resources they may not have had access to otherwise.

When the ASU found out students had to pay to get menstrual products, the officers took it upon themselves to provide “free sanitary napkins and tampons to any students in need,” as previously stated by the Valley Star.

The idea to give students access to menstrual products came from former ASU Commissioner of Student Life Maricela Garcia, after she was informed that the health office only provided one sanitary napkin or tampon per day. Commissioner Garcia proposed the program “Code Pink” to supply women with bags of three sanitary napkins or tampons twice a month. This was a massive step forward in providing students the resources they need, and with this bill possibly signed soon, students will have full access to as many products as they need.

Many students at Valley would consider themselves low-or-middle-income, and for them, menstrual products may not be as accessible.

“In this nationally-drawn sample of college attending women in the United States, 14.2 percent had ever experienced period poverty in the past year,” according to the Boston Medical Center. “An additional 10 percent had experienced it every month.”

In addition, it may cause embarrassment if a student who doesn’t have access to these products were to get their period at school. Often, students are forced “to choose between hygiene and dignity or staying in class,” according to CalMatters, a non-profit California policy newsroom. If the bill is signed, students will no longer have to worry about how to fulfill this basic need of life while they are on campus.

“I just want to make sure that female students are not limited to one pad,” said former Commissioner Garcia in 2019, and with the new bill, the state is doing just that.