On July 26, Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), state Senator Stephanie Kunze (R-Dublin), Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus and members of the Hamilton County Commission on Women and Girls held a press conference to discuss funding in the budget to provide no-cost period products in Ohio schools.
“Menstruation is a natural, biological occurrence that’s experienced by more than half the population—just as a lack of access to toilet paper is unhygienic and a danger to one’s health, the same is true of lacking access to period products,” said Leader Antonio. “I am pleased that this budget bill includes a provision for the basic health and hygiene necessities for girls, and I look forward to seeing expanding access to period products as we work toward menstrual equity in Ohio.”
This appropriation was recently signed into law as part of the state operating budget, House Bill 33. Leader Antonio and Senator Kunze introduced the budget amendment that will allocate this funding. It will provide $5 million in fiscal year 2024 for schools to provide free period products in schools. Of the $5 million, $2 million will go toward installing product dispensers and $3 million will go toward purchasing the products.
“I am grateful our amendment to provide period products to our 6-12 grade students was included in the Senate version and final version of the state operating budget,” said Senator Kunze. “We heard from advocates throughout the state that this will significantly aid in ensuring less truancy and stigma, and promoting productivity and participation in the classroom.”
At least 30 states and the District of Columbia have laws easing access to period products, and Ohio joins more than 20 states that have legislation to increase access in schools specifically. Providing students with freely-accessible tampons and pads can increase school attendance by 2.4% and reduce the documented health risks that they may face when experiencing a lack of access to these essential products.
“It is imperative that all students have every opportunity to learn in our schools. Eighty percent of teens have reported missing class time or knew someone who had missed school due to not having access to period products,” said Commissioner Driehaus. “Providing no-cost period products in Ohio schools enables students to attend class, reduces period poverty and fosters gender equity.”
The bill requires all public and private schools that enroll girls in grades six through 12 to provide free period products for those students. The bill further permits schools to offer free period products to students below sixth grade if they so choose and determine where the products are to be kept in the school.
Watch the full press conference here.