From left: Sofia Lien, Mireya Macias, Noor Ali. (Albuquerque Journal Photo)
About a year ago, three teens sought to make menstrual products in their high school bathrooms available and free.
Noor Ali, Sophia Lien and Mireya Macias were fed up with the products not being available in the one place they use them, the bathroom.
So they pitched a bill that would require schools to have free menstrual products available in bathrooms.
“Period poverty is very much a hidden crisis. It’s something that is so stigmatized that we don’t ever really talk about its impact,” Lien said. She also says the topic is sometimes embarrassing for people. She hopes the bill will encourage discussion and make it less taboo to talk about because it is a natural thing.
Some Rio Rancho teens also hope to have free products in their school’s bathrooms.
“Its a smart idea. To have it in the bathroom would help,” Rio Rancho High School student Laizel Stark, 18, said.
Currently, students in Rio Rancho either have to bring their own products or go to the nurse’s office in the case of an emergency.
The teens introducing the bill started small and tested the idea on their own school, Albuquerque Academy.
“We talked to our high school and eventually, after a few weeks, we were able to get products in all the bathrooms from sixth to 12th grade at our campus,” Ali said.
According to them, they first felt impacted by their change when they saw many thank you notes left by sixth graders in their bathroom. The good feedback inspired them to take the issue to legislation.
“We only received some push back when we asked for the products to be available in the boys’ bathroom, too,” Macias said. According to Macias, many teens are questioning their gender identity and use different bathrooms than their prescribed gender.
While some representatives give pushback, a few are showing support.
United States Rep. Melanie Stansbury isn’t part of the voting on this bill but she said she is proud to advocate for the young women passing the bill.
“In 2021, our office was fortunate enough to benefit from Mireya Macías’s work as one of our District Office interns, and it’s no surprise to see her bring her leadership and commitment to our communities to the State Legislature alongside Noor and Sophia. I am deeply proud of their commitment to combating stigma and furthering equity for students across our state, and can’t wait to see what they accomplish next,” she said.
New Mexico Rep. Jason Harper, Rio Rancho, has been contacted for comment on this story but the Observer has not received a response.