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Friday, April 19, 2024

‘Menstrual products are a necessity, not a luxury:’ Sen. Melissa Agard highlights menstrual product inaccessibility, destigmatizes process

The senator’s legislation would mandate any building funded by the state to offer free menstruation products.

Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard introduced legislation earlier this month to mandate free menstrual products in any building in Wisconsin funded by the state, such as public schools and universities. 

“Menstruation is a natural process that has been stigmatized, hidden and treated with shame,” Agard, D-Madison, said in an Oct. 16 press release

Currently, very few areas in Wisconsin provide access to menstrual products in public restrooms.  Dane County is considered to be the leading area in the state in providing these products, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County.

“When people who do not menstruate go into bathrooms, they have everything that they need to take care of their own personal needs,” Agard told The Daily Cardinal. “Menstrual products are a necessity, not a luxury.”

The Cardinal asked six students at UW-Madison if they would endorse legislation to provide free menstrual products in state funded buildings. All of them said yes. 

“Coming from a state that offers those kinds of products in their public restrooms, I never noticed that this state doesn’t already offer them,” a UW-Madison student said. 

Other students acknowledge that the menstruation process is natural and should be a normal part of using the restroom. 

Agard told the Cardinal the United States’ “white male majority” governing culture fuels negative stigma regarding menstruation.

Agard also said that there will be no additional funding needed to mandate this program as “nobody asks how they pay for toilet paper.” She said the program is equally plausible through the use of public building’s general funding.  

Agard noted “a broad list of representatives” have already signed on in support of this new legislation and “menstruation shouldn’t be something that holds anyone back, period.”

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