SECTION 1. (a) This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021.
(b) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) California recognizes that access to menstrual products is a basic human right and is vital for ensuring the health, dignity, and full participation of all Californians in public life.
(2) California has an interest in promoting gender equity, not only for women and girls, but also for transgender men, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people who may also
menstruate and experience inequities resulting from lack of access to menstrual products.
(3) Inadequate menstrual support is associated with both health and psychosocial issues, particularly among low-income people. A lack of access to menstrual products can cause emotional distress, physical infection, and disease.
(4) Equal opportunity to education is a fundamental right recognized by the California Constitution. Section 5 of Article IX of, subdivision (a) of Section 7 of Article I of, and subdivision (a) of Section 16 of Article IV of, the California Constitution require the state to maintain and operate the public school system in a manner that provides basic educational equity to students.
(5) California has an
interest in creating safe, welcoming, and inclusive schools for all students. Subdivision (b) of Section 201 of the Education Code, in particular, requires all preschool, elementary, and secondary schools to affirmatively combat racism, sexism, and other forms of bias.
(6) Research shows that students lacking access to menstrual products experience higher rates of absences and are less able to focus and engage in the classroom. Absenteeism can lead to significant performance gaps and is linked to social disengagement, feelings of alienation, and adverse outcomes even into adulthood.
(7) The provision of menstrual products in schools helps ensure California provides equal access to education and enables students to reach their full potential, irrespective of gender.
(8) Expanding student access to menstrual products can result in increased attendance rates. After the City of New York passed a law providing free menstrual products to students, participating schools saw a 2.4 percent increase in attendance.
(9) Expanding student access to menstrual products can also result in cost savings due to increased funding associated with student attendance and reduced administrative costs and expenses from charging for menstrual products.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that this act provide for the health, dignity, and safety of menstruating students at every socioeconomic level, normalize menstruation among all genders, and foster gender competency in California schools, colleges, and universities.