The Utah Senate voted 24-0 Thursday in support of legislation that requires Utah public schools to stock free period products in all female or unisex restrooms in elementary, middle and high schools.

HB162, sponsored by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, will enact “a reliable solution” to help Utah students manage their menstrual periods, she said during a committee hearing earlier in the legislative session.

By combining a legislative appropriation and funding from private donors, the bill would require dispensers to be installed in all unisex and girls school restrooms statewide that will be stocked with products available free of charge to students.

Senate Majority Whip Ann Millner, R-Ogden, said the genesis of the legislation was a public-private partnership created to ensure Utah girls from elementary school through high school have access to free menstrual hygiene products.

“We need to make sure that no child is ever embarrassed, that no child ever doesn’t come to school because they don’t have period products,” she said.

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Meeting with reporters earlier in the day, Millner said period products are simply a necessity.

“It’s a lot like toilet paper if you think about it. We need to make sure that’s available to every young girl in our schools,” she said.

Young women who do not have access to period products can feel shame or embarrassment and some may use products not intended for menstrual hygiene, she said.

Lisonbee, speaking at a committee hearing on HB162 earlier in the legislative session, said the solution “respects our most vulnerable and disadvantaged students’ privacy and feelings by offering these products in school restrooms rather than in classrooms or the main office.”

Community advocates, legislative leaders and community members came together to advocate for a policy that would address period poverty in Utah, Lisonbee said.

Two of the partners include Utah’s Period Project and the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation, which has contributed $2 million to purchase dispensers.

The Senate approved the bill on its second reading. HB162 advanced to the Senate’s third-reading calendar, a move that is largely procedural but necessary to ensure it is funded. It unanimously passed in the House last week.

According to the bill’s fiscal note, providing the products could cost the Utah State Board of Education nearly $2.4 million in one-time funds for the upcoming school year and nearly $1.75 million from the education fund the following year.

Contributing: Ashley Imlay, KSL.com