LANSING — State Representative Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) has introduced legislation that would require tampons and sanitary napkins to be made available free of charge in all public school bathrooms (House Bill 5426) and women’s restrooms in state-owned buildings (House Bill 5427).

“Feminine hygiene products are an essential health care need for girls and women and these products should be free and readily available in schools and government buildings,” said Roberts. “Currently, those in need of these necessary items must ask for them or have an exact amount of money to pay for them in a dispensary machine. Women and girls who are caught off-guard when their period starts shouldn’t have to worry about exact change or how to find a feminine hygiene product.”

Some schools offer feminine hygiene products but require a student to ask a school staff member and in some cases numerous people in order to receive them. In other schools, teachers or other staff purchase tampons with their own money for girls that can’t afford them or who may not have hygiene products with them when their period starts.

It is estimated that over the course of their lifetime, women use about 17,000 tampons and sanitary napkins, and the cost of tampons and pads can be a serious problem for low income families.

“It has been reported that some girls are afraid to tell their parents when they need money for tampons or pads because they know the impact it will have on their ability to buy other things their family needs,” said Roberts. “My legislation simply makes these products readily available for those who need them, and I hope my colleagues will support these bills so we can quickly move them to the governor’s desk for his signature.”