Every public school in Oregon — including elementary institutions — will soon be required to provide tampons and other feminine products in boys’ bathrooms with “instructions on how to use” them.
The controversial requirement is in accordance with the state’s new Menstrual Dignity Act, signed into law by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown last year, which mandates that menstrual products be made available in “every student bathroom.”
Following the bill’s passage, the Oregon Department of Education developed and distributed a “Medical Dignity for Students” toolkit to aid local districts and set forth a phased plan for districts to meet the law’s standards and requirements.
Effective immediately, each school is required to have menstrual product dispensers in at least two bathrooms. But by June 2023, dispensers are required in every student bathroom, KGW-TV reported. The department emphasized that schools must “consider all-gender access to the products.”
Sasha Grenier, a sexual health specialist with the department, said, “This new program will help students participate actively in classes and school activities by alleviating some of the economic strain and experiences of shame that are often barriers for menstruating people accessing their education.”
Michela Bedard, executive director of Portland-based advocacy group PERIOD, added in a press release that “this is a progressive policy, but also a bipartisan one … because menstruation does not discriminate from race, class or political affiliation.”
Apparently, menstruation does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, either. The state’s resources for abiding by the law are littered with inclusive phrases such as “students who menstruate” and “menstruating and non-menstruating students.” The department argues the law promotes “menstrual equity.”
The toolkit goes on to say the new law aims to “affirm the right to menstrual dignity for transgender, intersex, nonbinary, and two-spirit students.”
Portland Public Schools is reportedly excited to begin its planned implementation of the every bathroom requirement.
In a recent statement, the district announced that it had made feminine products available in “female and all-gender restrooms” and added that the products would be provided in “all remaining restrooms, including boys’ bathrooms,” by the start of the next school year.
The progressive law, however, is facing a fair amount of pushback, as well.
In a recent column, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins blasted the “absurd” law, noting that local taxpayers would be on the hook for thousands of new tampon dispensers, which are expected to cost roughly $400 a machine.
He added that in most cases, all the equity-forward measure will accomplish is giving school janitors more to clean up as young boys undoubtedly take advantage of the new and unusual prank materials.
“Obviously, state leaders didn’t bother to consult their counterparts in Illinois, where a similar move has literally opened the floodgates to expensive plumbing issues and mischief,” Perkins wrote. “Case in point: campuses like Loyola University, where janitors are dealing with all kinds of pranks, tampering, and vandalism.
Sanitary pads “would end up on the mirrors, in the sinks, down the toilet, and completely thrown out,” one students’ group complained, according to Perkins.