Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) has again filed legislation that would ensure girls in Florida’s public schools have access to menstrual products at no cost. SB 242, 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.
In 2019, 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 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 allow Medicaid coverage for donor breastmilk from milk banks, extend Medicaid coverage for post-partum care, and keep children safe from sexual predators. Senator Book also filed this bill in the 2020 legislative session.