How Caddo Parish led effort to end ‘period poverty’ for school girls, now statewide bill

Louisiana middle school and high school girls told lawmakers Wednesday that menstrual products are as essential “as toilet paper and soap” to learning and sanitary hygiene, convincing a House panel to advance a bill that would require all public schools to make the products free and easily accessible.

It’s the third straight year Democratic New Orleans Rep. Aimee Freeman has brought the measure, this time as House Bill 310, and each time before it has overwhelmingly passed the House but died without a final hearing on the Senate floor.

“It can be terribly embarrassing and horrible if you don’t have the products needed to keep blood from showing up on your (clothes at school),” Freeman told the committee, which approved the bill on a 9-2 vote.

But the most compelling testimony, lawmakers agreed, came from students advocating for the end of “period poverty,” noting many of their classmates can’t afford menstrual products. That can lead to missing school, they said, or anxiety that distracts them from academic success.

Story continues