Public school students in Rhode Island are one step closer to having access to free feminine hygiene products after the state’s Senate approved a pair of bills on Tuesday that would provide cost-free pads and tampons to students in grades five through 12.
The state’s Democratic-controlled Senate unanimously passed the House and Senate versions of a proposal that would require public schools to provide the products for free in gender-neutral bathrooms and restrooms designated for females by the start of the 2022-2023 school year. The bills had previously received overwhelming support in the state House.
The legislation now heads to Democratic Gov. Daniel McKee, who could sign it or issue a veto.
CNN has reached out to McKee’s office on the recently passed bills.
Democratic state Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, one of the sponsors of the House version of the measure, stressed in a statement last week that the products the legislation provides “are not luxuries, they are necessities for many of our students.”
“This bill will prevent the embarrassment suffered by our students who have an accident during the school day and afford them the dignity that they deserve,” she said.
Several other states have enacted similar measures in recent years, including New Hampshire in 2019. New York, Illinois and California have also approved such requirements, and two years ago Boston Public Schools launched a pilot program to provide free menstrual products in its schools.