Illinois bill to put feminine hygiene products in boys' bathrooms goes to the governor

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A bill awaiting the governor’s signature would require schools to provide free menstruation products in both girls' and boys' bathrooms for grades 4 through 12.

Currently, Illinois requires tampons to be provided to students who need them, but the supplies are kept in the nurse’s office.

State Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, a co-sponsor of the proposal, said products such as tampons and sanitary napkins are needed in both girls’ and boys’ bathrooms in order to address the health needs of transgender students.

“If you are biologically a female, but identifying as a male, you’re going to menstruate and you’re going to need these products,” Willis said during floor debate.

Bill co-sponsor, state Sen. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, said the measure was an effort to end period poverty.

During a debate in the Senate, state Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, asked Villa why feminine hygiene products needed to be provided in boys’ bathrooms. Villa responded, “in case of an emergency.”

“I’m telling you there is no logic here,” Tracy said. “For an emergency is not a good answer. We've got to quit playing these stupid silly games here and get real and get fiscally responsible.”

State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, voiced concerns over mandating schools to place these materials in all boys’ bathrooms, which would open the door for immature students to play with the costly resources.

“When you give a grade school boy something that’s adhesive, they’re going to put it in places,” Bourne said. “These products are not inexpensive and they are going to be misused if they are placed in elementary school boys' bathrooms.”

Illinois is one of more than a dozen states considering bills to require schools to provide free feminine hygiene products, although few have included boys’ restrooms.

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