After an at times heated debate, the Illinois House passed a bill Thursday requiring all schools to provide menstrual products in bathrooms accessed by students in grades 4 through 12.
“This bill will help hundreds of young menstruators in Illinois,” said state Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, on the importance of House bill 156.
Under current statute, schools must provide tampons to students who need them, but the supplies are kept in the nurse’s office. Hernandez said this creates a barrier to young girls shy about having their period and makes them more inaccessible in an emergency.
“This is really important for young menstruators who are not able to purchase products and they need this for emergency situations," Hernandez said.
Under the bill, tampons would need to be accessible in male bathrooms as well, raising questions from Republicans.
“(Democrats) the party of science, but the science says those products are inapplicable in a male bathroom,” said state Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport. "As a male, they shouldn’t be in our bathrooms."
Hernandez argued a male friend could grab them for a female friend in an emergency. State Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Chicago, came to Hernandez’s defense on the issue and argued they could also be used by transgender students who use a male bathroom but still have their period.
Chesney pushed back on the Democrat’s logic, saying their argument for putting tampons in the men’s room just adds confusion.
"There are only two genders. To put female products in a male bathroom is not only confusing to a sixth-grader but completely inapplicable. So as a male who did go to a public high school, as a male who went to bathrooms from sixth grade to 12th grade, I can promise you not one of my male friends ever needed these. And I would really appreciate it if the sponsor would stay… out of my bathroom and I promise her, I’ll stay out of her’s," Chesney said.
Chesney’s arguments received immediate push back from male Democrats.
“I’m a little appalled at some of the opposition. These products need to be made available for young ladies," said state Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago.
State Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, said the bill will help educate men and young boys and as a dad, is an important topic for him to know about even if it’s uncomfortable.
"Menstruation is a normal biological function, and everybody just needs to get over the uncomfortableness that makes them act when they’re a little bit uncomfortable talking about the topic," said state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, on the Republicans’ outrage.
The bill originally was introduced to provide tampons in all bathrooms at schools regardless of age, which received significant push back in committee hearings, prompting the amendment to specify the grade level.
State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, also argued schools should make the decision on how to distribute menstrual products and the bill could create unnecessary cost increases that are more difficult for rural schools to afford.
The bill goes to the Senate for further consideration. If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, schools would be immediately required to make the change.
via The State Journal-Register
May 20, 2021 at 08:46PM