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Legislation Would Pad The Way For Schoolgirls

Daisy Contreras
NPR Illinois

Public schools would have to provide free feminine hygiene products in girls' bathrooms under legislation approved in the Illinois General Assembly.

Tampons aren't normally a topic of public conversation, but at least half the population can probably recall an unexpected middle school moment when having feminine hygiene products available in the ladies room would've turned a bad day in a better day.


State Rep. Litesa Wallace, the Rockford Democrat who sponsored the bill, compares this requirement to supplying hand soap and paper towels.


"There are issues that we have no control over, it's a public health issue, it's one that, I believe if it applied to everybody, everyone would get on board," she says. "This is another way to make sure that we not only are keeping the young lady discreet and with dignity."


This measure would require public schools attended by girls in grades 6 through 12 to supply feminine hygiene products free of charge in the ladies restrooms. Wallace says this measure could be especially helpful to low-income students, who sometimes resort to using unsanitary paper substitutes or skipping school altogether.


School districts that already make products available have noticed slight improvements in school attendance. Wallace says she hopes Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has campaigned on his support for education, will sign her legislation into law.


After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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