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New York planning to provide free feminine hygiene products in schools

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal expects her bill requiring free feminine hygiene products in schools to be included in the state's budget.
(Photo: Thinkstock)

ALBANY - New York schools may soon provide students with free feminine hygiene products.

The measure is expected to be part of the state budget for the fiscal year that starts Sunday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the measure in January as part of his Women's Agenda For New York, and lawmakers said it will be part of the budget.

“No student should miss a day of school or feel ashamed because they don’t have access to tampons or pads,” Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, who sponsors the bills, said.

The proposal would required school districts to provide free feminine hygiene products in restrooms for girls in grades 6 through 12.

Supporters of the measure said many young women may not have the money to buy the items, which can cost between $7 and $10 a box for pads or tampons.

Cuomo noted the United Nations has linked menstrual hygiene access to human rights.

"New York leads the nation in championing women's rights and breaking down barriers to equality, and that mission starts when women are girls," Cuomo said in a statement Jan. 22.

In 2016, legislation was signed that required New York City schools, homeless shelters and jails to offer free tampons and pads to women.

Last year, New York became one of nine states to eliminate a tax on tampons, pads and other menstrual products.

California and Illinois require the products in schools.

Rosenthal said feminine hygiene products should be considered the same as having toilet paper in school bathrooms. There was no immediate estimate on how much the requirement will cost schools.

“Toilet paper and tampons aren’t different,” Rosenthal said.

“But the way we think about them is. Here in New York, we’re aiming to change that.”