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Oklahoma nonprofit urges passage of bill requiring free menstrual products in schools


In Oklahoma schools, educators and local nonprofits often purchase menstrual products to help students access free supplies. That could change with the advancement of a bill that would require sixth through twelfth grade schools to provide free products.

House Bill 3329 was authored by Rep. Cynthia Roe (R-Lindsay) and Sen. Brenda Stanley (R-Midwest City), and it would make free menstrual products accessible to all students in school bathrooms, the nurse’s office and administrative offices.

Period OKC President Linley Smith said her nonprofit donated around 1 00,000 products to public schools last year. But there are still schools across the state that need them.

“We just had another school from Hammond, Oklahoma, who's going to start driving two hours each way to pick up products from us once a month,” Smith said. “It's just crazy. I wish we could do more, and so what we're trying to do is make changes on a state level.”

Those changes could significantly impact outcomes in Oklahoma, where access to period products could determine whether or not a student comes to school. One in four teen girls in the U.S. have missed class because they can’t access period supplies, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies.

“Imagine how much [this policy] would affect the absenteeism rate,” Smith said.

Currently, 25 states and Washington D.C. have passed legislation to help students access free period products at school. Some include state funding to make them available, while others remain unfunded. Smith said she hopes Oklahoma becomes one of the states offering these products to students.

“Being able to take care of your basic needs in schools would make a huge difference, and make it an even safer place,” Smith said.

The bill was approved unanimously in the House A&B Education Subcommittee and is now waiting to be heard in the full A&B Committee before it can move to the House floor. Smith said Oklahomans can contact their legislators about the bill on Period OKC’s website.

Jillian Taylor has been StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter since August 2023.