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Bill would require Colorado middle and high schools to provide free period products

Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post on

Published in News & Features

The bill would require education providers, except for small rural school districts, to provide free period products in bathrooms accessible to students in sixth to 12th grade who menstruate in at least half of all buildings beginning July 1, 2025.

A year later, on July 1, 2026, all schools would be required to provide the products in all buildings with bathrooms accessible to students who menstruate.

Michelle Murphy, executive director of Colorado Rural Schools Alliance, and Melissa Gibson, deputy executive director of Colorado Association of School Executives, opposed the bill during testimony, noting it would create an unfunded mandate that would “drain district resources” and lead to vandalism and “substantial disruptions” if teens abused the menstrual products.

More than 35 districts and schools already provide free period products across Colorado, according to bill testimony.

Denver Public Schools, among the districts that provides free period products to its 90,000 students, supported the bill in testimony. A DPS employee who oversees the distribution of menstrual products testified Thursday that the school district spent $19,000 on period products in 2022 and $17,000 in 2023.

Nineteen states already mandate free menstrual products in school restrooms.

During testimony, doctors, students, school staff and parents testified in support of the bill, sharing intimate stories of times they’ve bled through their pants in school hallways and wished for better access to hygiene products that could help them learn and avoid embarrassment.

 

Aubrey Iverson, a high school student at Stargate Charter School, said during testimony that getting your first period can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking.

“Students may be embarrassed to talk to an adult about their period or need for products, which becomes a barrier for many students at my school in accessing them,” Iverson said. “It was a frustrating process where students compromised their dignity and comfort to alleviate a basic bodily function as well as going out of our way to the nurses’ office simply to get period products. Not to mention, the option to even get these products there was widely unknown among menstruators — formerly myself included.”

After working on the issue with school administrators, Iverson said her school installed free period product dispensers in the girls’ and gender-neutral bathrooms.

“Menstruation is not something to be hidden or endured silently,” Willford said. “Access to period products should not be a luxury.”

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