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House bill could require free menstrual products in every bathroom of Illinois schools

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- The Illinois House passed a bill Thursday evening that could require all schools to offer students free menstrual hygiene products in all bathrooms.

House Bill 156 would only apply to fourth grade through senior year of high school. Still, Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport) argued he didn't understand why menstrual products should be in a boys bathroom.

In fact, he said it could lead to young boys stealing the products and using them in inappropriate ways. Chesney feels that could create problems for many, especially boys in middle school.

"I'm curious why you feel it's appropriate to put menstrual products in a male bathroom," said Chesney. "Saying, as a male, they shouldn't be in our bathrooms."

However, sponsor Barbara Hernandez (D-Aurora) explained any student who menstruates uses these products.

"They will no longer be ashamed to go get a product that they desperately need that they cannot afford," said Hernandez. "This is a good bill."

Breaking the stigma

Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Collinsville) also argued it's time to break the stigma and offer these products to both boys and girls.

"Typically males who are taught to be uncomfortable, taught that it's icky," said Stuart. "Girls who are taught that they should hide that this even happens to them. It leads to a lot of problems in the life of menstruators."

On the other hand, Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) emphasized schools who need it have already offered free menstrual products to students.

"We need to have faith in our local school districts," said Bourne. "They are caring for students in the way that they need to be cared for and I would ask this body to please vote no."

However, after intense debate from Republicans and Democrats, the bill passed out of the House on a partisan 68-43 vote. At this time, it now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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