Winning the House vote 211-135, the legislation that’s become known as the period poverty bill was drafted by 17-year-old Caroline Dillon with the help of senator Martha Hennessey. It would equip middle and high school bathrooms across the state with free pads and tampons for students who can’t afford the products or who are embarrassed to ask for them.
“It was sad to think about,” Dillon explained when she testified in front of the Senate’s Education and Workforce Development committee in February. “Girls in middle and high school would never dream of telling somebody that they have to miss school or use socks because they can’t pay for pads.”
Those in support of Senate Bill 142, including ACLU New Hampshire Political Director Jeanne Hruska, add that not only would the new law help remove some of the stigma still surrounding menstruation but it would also improve the female students’ experience at school.
Hruska told The Concord Monitor, “It’s about human dignity, and making sure that student is focused on their classwork, or focused on what their teacher is trying to teach them and not focused on where their next pad is going to come from.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Dartmouth College professor Deborah Brooks. In a separate interview with the news outlet, she argued “We don’t ask children in schools or their teachers to pay for toilet paper every time they go to the bathroom… yet for menstruation, we expect girls not to just be able to pay for it – which is a challenge for many – but also to remember and to remember at a point in their lives when menstruation is unpredictable.”
Similar legislation already exists in three other states: Illinois, New York, and California. Before the bill officially becomes law in New Hampshire, it must be approved by governor Chris Sununu.