‘Menstrual Product’ Law Is A Case Of Misplaced Priorities

In the name of menstrual equality and gender inclusivity, Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed a so-called “Health Equity and Opportunity legislative package” into law. Two pieces of legislation included in the package are particularly misguided.

The first, Bill S.1522-Persaud/A.1296-Rosenthal, L. (or Chapter 650 of the Laws of 2023), replaces conventional phrases like “feminine hygiene products” and “sanitary napkins” with “menstrual products” in existing laws. The law’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Queens), asserted that “outdated terminology” perpetuates “stigma” surrounding menstruation, making menstruation seem dirty. The law also removed the words “female” and “women” from existing laws relating to the provision of feminine hygiene products in correctional facilities.

The second, Bill S.5913-A-Chu/A.113-A-Rosenthal, L. (or Chapter 662 of the Laws of 2023), requires private middle schools and high schools—including Christian schools—to provide free feminine hygiene products in their restrooms. There is concern that some may interpret the law to require that feminine hygiene products be provided in boys’ restrooms as well as girls’ restrooms. In a bizarre twist, Sen. Iwen Chu (D-Brooklyn), the law’s Senate sponsor, claimed that “‘25 percent of menstruating individuals do not have access to period products, which are a basic necessity that can be a burdensome expense for families.’” This statistic is extraordinarily difficult to believe. It is even more difficult to believe that parents who can afford private school tuition cannot afford to provide their daughters with feminine hygiene products.

In a press statement, Gov. Hochul asserted that New York is “‘taking the steps to ensure equity for all from healthcare to haircare’” and lauded the “‘positive impact’” of “‘inclusivity’” upon New York’s communities. Unfortunately, the Governor’s twisted definition of “inclusivity” does not have a positive effect on anyone. At best, it results in a waste of the Legislature’s time (what purpose is served by changing the words “feminine hygiene products” to “menstrual products” in a state law?). At worst, it leads the Legislature to attempt to micromanage New Yorkers’ lives.

At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we take no position whatsoever on whether private schools should provide students with free feminine hygiene products. However, we do believe that decisions of this nature belong to private schools—not to state government.

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