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Free pads and tampons in Maryland public school bathrooms?

A proposed Maryland bill would ensure public schools provide free menstrual products to students in at least two restrooms by October 2020.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Public schools in Maryland could soon be required to provide free menstrual products to students in restrooms, according to a bill referred to the committee in the Maryland General Assembly. 

House Bill 0208 states that each county's board of education would be required to ensure that each public school provides free menstrual hygiene products via dispensers in restrooms at every school. The bill said that Maryland public schools must install dispensers in at least two restrooms by Oct. 1, 2020 and in every restroom by Aug. 1, 2024.

The bill defines menstrual hygiene products as "size-appropriate tampons or sanitary napkins for use in connection with the menstrual cycle." 

The bill is currently in its first stages in the Maryland General Assembly.

In October 2018, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the District would no longer charge sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the sales tax exemption went into effect Oct. 1 for items including tampons, sanitary napkins, menstrual cups and comparable products. She said in a tweet that day that "feminine hygiene is a necessity, not a luxury."

The fight for free menstrual products has sparked across the country.

In July 2019, New Hampshire middle and high schools became required to provide free feminine hygiene products to students.

Calling it an issue of "equality and dignity," Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill Wednesday to require all female and gender-neutral bathrooms in middle and high schools to stock free menstrual products. Supporters say lack of access to such products contributes to "period poverty" as girls whose families can't afford the products stay at home or miss class when they have to get the supplies from a school nurse.

Sununu said the new law will help ensure young women can learn without disruption and free of shame or stigma. Opponents said the bill amounts to an unconstitutional unfunded mandate.

RELATED: New Hampshire schools required to provide free feminine hygiene products

RELATED: DC Mayor Bowser declares end to sales tax on menstrual hygiene products

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