On Aug. 23, Gov. Phil Murphy signed S-1221 into law (P.L.2023, c.147), requiring school districts to provide menstrual products in public schools serving grades 6-12, beginning in the 2024-2025 school year. Such schools must provide students direct access to tampons and sanitary napkins, free of charge, in at least half of all female and gender-neutral bathrooms, if applicable. The costs will be borne by the state.

“When students can’t access the menstrual products they need for their reproductive health, the potential stress and stigma too often distracts them from their classes or forces them to skip school entirely – leading to social and academic repercussions that no one should have to face,” Murphy said. “My administration will continue to prioritize the mental and physical health of New Jersey students by taking a holistic approach to supporting their well-being. Promoting menstrual equity in our schools is one crucial component of our ongoing efforts to ensure the success of young people throughout our state and promote equity at every level.”

Its intent, the Legislature declared in the bill, is to “provide for the health, dignity, and safety of menstruating students at every socioeconomic level, as well as to help normalize menstruation among all.” The Legislature cited a pilot program at a New York City high school that reportedly saw a 2.4% increase in attendance after providing students access to menstrual products. Murphy also cited the findings of a 2021 study that “new data show period poverty — the inability to access menstrual hygiene products — has jumped to nearly a quarter of all students (up from 1 in 5 in 2019), and lower income and students of color have been particularly affected.”

The new law also requires the New Jersey Department of Education, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, to periodically review and assess whether the law is meeting the needs of menstruating students, and if necessary to make recommendations regarding the expansion of access below grade six.

For additional information, please see the governor’s Aug. 23 announcement.