Legislation Went into Effect July 1 as Part of Governor Cuomo's Women's Opportunity Agenda
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today reminded school leaders of a new law requiring all school districts, serving students grades six through twelve, 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," Governor Cuomo said. "By providing all students with equal access to these products, we are creating a stronger, healthier New York for all."
"With access to menstrual products in schools, we're continuing to ensure equality for women and girls in New York," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "New York passed legislation requiring schools with students in grades six through twelve have feminine hygiene products available in restrooms as a step in addressing the issue of inequality and stigma. As the school year begins, we're reminding school districts to make sure that these items are provided to students."
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.
State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, "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. 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."
Congresswoman Grace Meng said, "Many women in New York lack access to menstrual products, and for young women, this inequality can cause distraction and worry that may negatively affect their learning experience. By making these essential feminine health products available in schools, we are helping young women become confident, successful adults. I have worked tirelessly to make feminine hygiene products more accessible and affordable to women. I am proud to have championed the issue in Congress and I thank Governor Cuomo for all his efforts on the state level here in New York."
Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal said, "The campaign for menstrual equity in New York State is about ensuring that natural biological functions never keep girls and women from accessing opportunity and fulfilling their potential. I am thrilled that when public school students walk into school this year, not one will need to worry about access to menstrual hygiene products. After first axing the tax on tampons statewide, I am proud to have carried the legislation to guarantee access to menstrual hygiene products in public schools statewide, and to continue leading the fight to guarantee access to menstrual hygiene products in facilities statewide. Tampons and pads ought to be viewed no differently than toilet paper, and we must continue pushing discussions and legislation that cut the shame and stigma that persists in society."
For more information on feminine hygiene products in schools visit http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/schoolhealth/schoolhealthservices/FeminineHygieneProductsInSchools.html.
New York continues to champion women's rights and break down barriers to equality. While the federal government seeks to roll back women's rights, New York State looks toward the future creating opportunities for women to succeed in every area: work, health, safety, education and family life. For more information on the Governor's Women's Opportunity Agenda visit https://www.ny.gov/programs/2018-womens-opportunity-agenda-new-york.