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Colorado law mandates schools provide students with menstrual hygiene items

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – Public schools will be required to provide menstrual hygiene products at no expense to students in all applicable bathrooms by 2028, according to a new Colorado law.

House Bill 24-1164 states it’s “necessary to ensure that all students who menstruate have access to menstrual products in order to promote the health, dignity and education equality of all students.” The bill was sponsored by a transgender woman, Representative Brianna Titone, D-Jefferson, and three women – Representative Jenny Willford, D-Adams, and Senators Janet Buckner, D-Arapahoe, and Faith Winter, D-Adams. It passed out of the House on a 44-18 vote and was approved 27-8 in the Senate.

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The bill defines “applicable student bathroom” as a female-designated bathroom or a gender-neutral bathroom in a school building that’s accessible to students in grades six through 12 who menstruate. Products are defined, “… at a minimum, tampons and menstrual pads.”

Beginning on or before June 30, 2025, all schools must provide menstrual products at no expense to students in at least 25 percent of “applicable student bathrooms in all applicable school buildings.” The percentage increases to 50 percent by 2026, 75 percent by 2027 and all bathrooms by 2028.

The bill’s fiscal note stated it will increase costs for school districts to provide the products and estimated the annual amount to be between 20 cents and $5 per student.

The law requires small rural school districts and charter schools in small rural school districts to meet the 2028 deadline but exempts them from the phase-in period.

In school buildings for students enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade, the products can be provided in a health office or an administrative office.

The bill also expands the 2021 law creating the Menstrual Hygiene Product Accessibility Grant Program in the Colorado Department of Education. Senate Bill 21-255 provided funding for the projects if 50 percent of a school’s students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. The Department of Education is required to award grants in an amount proportionate to the number of students and restrooms in the school. The fiscal note for this year’s legislation stated 35 schools received funding last year and grants ranged between $1,000 and $5,000.

Schools must file an annual report with the Department of Education on how the grant was spent.

This year’s law expands participation in the grant program to rural and small rural school districts and charters schools in those school districts. It also increased the funding provided to the Department of Education from $100,000 to $200,000. No more than 10 percent can be used by the Department of Education for administrative costs.