PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Oregon State Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to deny a petition that attempted to change a new law that provides tampons and sanitary pads for free in every student bathroom of all public school buildings.
Gov. Kate Brown signed the Menstrual Dignity Act in 2021 and the board of education adopted its permanent rules on March 17, 2022.
On June 23, 2022, Cherylene Stritenberg, director of the Eagle Point School District School Board, petitioned the definitions and requirements of the new law. She said it was unnecessary for every student bathroom to include dispensers for tampons and sanitary pads and felt the move was a mismanagement of public finances.
Instead, she proposed providing the sanitary products in at least two bathrooms at each school and said that the products should not be included in restrooms meant for males.
“Males DO NOT menstruate and should not be included in the definition for student bathroom inclusion when providing feminine hygiene products for menstruating females,” Stritenberg wrote in her petition.
She asked that the law’s definition be amended to remove the requirement to include the sanitary product dispensers in bathrooms designated for males. She instead said that a “student bathroom” should only include gender-neutral bathrooms or bathrooms designated for females.
The Oregon Department of Education accepted public comment on the petition from July 6-20. It received more than 150 responses. The majority of comments supported the changes proposed in the petition.
Many people who supported the petition felt that including tampons and sanitary pads in male restrooms would be a waste of school funds and felt the items would be unnecessary.
Those who said they wanted to keep the law in place as it is felt that including these products in boys’ bathrooms would ensure transgender boys or non-binary students have access to the menstrual items they need.
Before Monday’s unanimous vote, the board members said they were impressed with the outreach and engagement that went into collecting public comment.
Vice Chair Jennifer Scurlock addressed her fellow board members and said, “As a classroom teacher of students who have advocated for this, it is important that students are heard and in this space, I do believe that students are being heard and it’s important that they know that their decisions, their requests, their advocacy matters in our state and in our educational system.”
Board of education Chair Guadalupe Martinez Zapata pointed out that changing or repealing the rule, as it was petitioned, would violate the law that was enacted — since the rule was created because of the law.
The law went into effect on July 1, 2022. The bill will remain as it was signed into law, now that the petition has been denied.