HB 134 Free Menstrual Products In Schools Goes To Senate

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Courtesy photo

The Santa Fe New Mexican

A student-driven bill that would require all public schools in New Mexico to stock restrooms with free menstrual products is headed to its final proving ground in the Legislature.

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday voted 4-1 in approval of House Bill 134, drafted by three teens who attend Albuquerque Academy. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, a sponsor of HB 134, said the budget bill for fiscal year 2024 includes $1.2 million to fund the measure.

Maddy Hayden, a spokeswoman for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, wrote in an email the governor “is fully supportive of this legislation and commends the three young women who have led the charge to make this bill the law of the land”.

“Young people shouldn’t have their education disrupted by figuring out how to deal with a natural part of growing up,” Hayden wrote.

The dissenting Education Committee vote came from Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, who objected to a provision that would require schools to offer the products in at least one boys’ restroom. In previous discussions about the bill, advocates have said the provision is to ensure transgender youth have access to products, and would allow boys to get them for girls who need them. 

Sen. Leo Jaramillo, D-Española, who introduced the bill to the committee, said HB 134 is a good way to overcome “period poverty” — or lack of access to menstrual products because of the costs. As a former educator and athletic coach, he said, he would carry a bag with feminine hygiene products for students. 

He and others who testified in support of the bill described the sense of relief girls feel when they can access such products at school. 

A group of Albuquerque girls who led the initiative spoke to the committee about their own feelings of embarrassment as younger students when they were unable to obtain menstrual products at school. 

The bill’s fiscal impact report cites a BMC Public Health study that says 20% of teenagers nationwide have had difficulty affording products. The figure rises to 25% for Hispanic teens, the study says. 

The issue also can affect school attendance, the study says: Nearly 25% of teens who menstruate have missed class because they didn’t have menstrual products.

Marly Fisher, a student from Albuquerque Academy, said the bill will bring “dignity” to the issue of menstruation and help alleviate the need to “focus on our bodies rather than our [school] work”.

Kernan asked Trujillo if it is possible students will take more of the products than they need from a school’s supply.

Trujillo said while that might be the case at first, after students realize the products will always be available in restrooms, “eventually it will wane”.


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