By Sami Sharfin
By the 2022-2023 school year, pads and tampons will be provided for free to students at schools across Washington State per House Bill 1273. The bill was first introduced in January 2021. On May 3, 2021, HB 1273 was officially signed into law.
The bill says that menstrual products must be provided in all gender-neutral and female bathrooms. If a school with students in 6th-12th grade does not have a gender-neutral bathroom, that school is required to have products available in at least one restroom accessible to male students or in a school health center. For schools with students in 3rd-5th grade, the products don’t have to be located in bathrooms but must still be available elsewhere. This law also applies to colleges and universities.
House Bill 1273 was sponsored by Representative April Berg who stressed the critical need to end period poverty and increase menstrual equity in a news release. Berg also expressed that this legislation addresses an overarching health issue that many students face when menstruating, especially if there aren’t any products readily available to them.
In accordance with the new state law, district and private schools are responsible for covering the costs of providing free menstrual products to their students with the option of applying for grants or partnering with specific organizations in order to fulfill this need.
On July 1, 2020, Washington State Legislature put into effect a bill removing sales tax on menstrual products, making Washington the 18th state in the country to exempt pads and tampons from sales taxes. It’s estimated that the period tax removal will save menstruators in Oregon $3 million dollars in the law’s first year.
Pacific Lutheran University, Asa Mercer International Middle School and Spokane Public Library are just a few of our amazing clients in Washington who have joined the menstrual movement.
Washington - Aunt Flow is here and ready to support you with our free-vend menstrual product dispensers!
Feeling inspired? Learn how to implement a free menstrual product program at your school.
Sami Sharfin is a freelance writer, content creator and current senior at Indiana University-Bloomington.