A bill passed the Illinois House yesterday requiring public schools to provide menstrual products in all bathrooms accessed by students in grades 4 through 12.
Under current statute, schools must provide tampons to students who need them, but the supplies are kept in the nurse’s office. House Bill 156 sponsored by 83rd District Democrat Representative Barbara Hernandez of Aurora says the bill eliminates barriers to young menstruators shy about having their period and makes feminine hygiene more accessible in an emergency.
The bill originally was introduced to provide tampons in all bathrooms at schools regardless of age, which received significant push back in committee hearings, prompting the amendment to specify the grade level. The bill also received major push back in floor debate last night by Republicans because the feminine hygiene products will also be available in male bathrooms.
According to the State Journal Register, 95th District Republican Avery Bourne argued on the floor last night schools should make the decision on how to distribute menstrual products and the bill could create unnecessary cost increases that are more difficult for rural schools to afford. Bourne was joined by 100th District Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer and 93rd District Representative Norine Hammond in voting against the bill.
Despite the heated debate, the bill passed the Illinois House 68-43 with 7 members not voting. The bill goes to the Senate for further consideration. If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, schools would be immediately required to make the change.