A Democrat sponsored bill currently being considered by state legislators would increase student access to tampons and pads at Colorado middle, junior and high schools. The measure creates a grant program that schools can use to provide the products for free.
If passed, low-income schools would be given priority access to the funding. The grant would go toward installing tampon and pad dispensers in bathrooms at schools that don’t have them.
Caitlyn Saulk is a senior at a Denver-area high school. She testified in front of the House Education Committee, posing a hypothetical situation — you’re at home or at work, and you need to use the restroom but there’s no toilet paper.
“We’ve all been there,” she said. “Now imagine that there’s never any toilet paper.”
Saulk likened that to the lack of menstrual products available in bathrooms within Denver Public Schools.
Other students who testified said the stigma associated with being on their period at school impacts the learning environment. That includes missing school, being distracted, and not having menstrual products on hand when they needed them. Republican opponents said they were concerned with the cost.
Sponsors of the bill say it’s a step toward normalizing periods as a bodily function and meeting basic student needs.
Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet supports the bill.
“Sometimes it is our job to listen and react. This is a need,” she said.
Republic opponents said they were concerned with the cost. Several lawmakers questioned whether a grant was the correct approach for funding as well as why students would be opposed to going to the nurse to get a pad or tampon, when they need them.
Representative Colin Larson suggested a mandate for the program instead of a grant. “It’s basic human hygiene and we should just be doing it,” he said.
Representative Mark Baisley also voted no, saying he’d like to see a more direct solution like involvment from local school boards.
The House Education Committee passed the bill on a party-line vote. It’s now in front of the Appropriations Committee.