Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) has filed legislation to ensure girls in Florida’s public schools have access to menstrual products at no cost. The bill, SB 234 entitled “Learning with Dignity” would require both sanitary napkins/pads and tampons to be provided in all female restrooms in Florida’s K-12 public schools.
“One in five girls have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to menstrual products,” says Senator Book, citing a recent survey. “Girls pay a price when these products aren’t free – and providing them will go a long way toward equity in education.”
Women typically spend around $150 – $300 annually on menstrual products, which can cause a financial strain for low-income students and their families. Twenty three percent of Florida’s children are living below the poverty level, and 66 percent of public school children qualify for free or reduced price school lunch.
Earlier this summer, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act into law, mandating menstrual products be provided at no cost to Florida’s female inmates.
“A period should end a sentence, it shouldn’t end education,” says Ashley L. Eubanks of the Beauty Initiative, a South Florida-based nonprofit that has provided more than 400,000 hygiene necessities to women and girls in need. “Senator Book’s Learning with Dignity bill will ensure hygiene is not a luxury for girls in Florida’s public schools.”
This is the latest in Book’s pro-women-and-girls legislative agenda. The Senator is also sponsoring legislation to exempt sales tax on diapers and incontinence products, to allow Medicaid coverage for donor breast milk from milk banks, to ensure school children are safe from illness by tightening vaccine exemptions, strengthening penalties for child abuse, a measure to prevent abortion from being limited by a male-dominated legislature, and requiring information on emergency contraception to be provided to victims of sexual battery.