When you go into a public restroom, it is expected that toilet paper, soap and paper towels will be there for use; any time, any place. If you’re lucky, there may be vending machines that charge $0.25 – $1 for tampons and pads in an emergency. Why should period products not be provided for free, just like the other bathroom necessities? Some cities in Michigan are taking strides to change this.
An East Lansing city ordinance that requires all city-owned public restrooms to provide menstrual products for free was approved on Tuesday, February 8th by the East Lansing City Council. Free vending machines are to be installed in all public restrooms according to this proposal. According to an article by Fox 47 News, Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg explains that this money will come out of the city’s general budget. You can read more about Gregg’s thoughts here.
East Lansing is the second city in Michigan to pass an ordinance of this nature, following Ann Arbor’s lead. Ann Arbor passed an ordinance in November 2021 that requires all public restrooms to provide free period products. Ann Arbor takes the ordinance one step further, by requiring all privately owned businesses in the city to provide period products – as opposed to East Lansing which only requires city-owned buildings to provide products. It is noteworthy that the Ann Arbor ordinance does not apply to buildings on the campus of University of Michigan, leaving communities to question if legislation passed in East Lansing would create change on the campus of Michigan State University.
Mission Menstruation’s Executive Director, Nama Naseem, has been active in the efforts to pass this legislation in the East Lansing City Council. “Although the ‘tampon tax’ was repealed statewide in 2021, our orgs believe more work needs to be done to ensure that those who menstruate are able to maintain their health,” she wrote in a letter to city counsel. Read more of Nama’s thoughts in the Lansing State Journal here.
As more cities across the country adopt ordinances to provide free menstrual products, the fight for period equity continues. To stay up to date with all things period policy, and the effect this has on universities in the community, make sure to get connected with Mission Menstruation on all of our social platforms.
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