ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Seniors at an Albuquerque high school are taking on the Roundhouse this legislative session as they introduce their first bill. It’s centered on what they’re calling the “Menstrual and Reproductive Equity Movement.”
Three Albuquerque Academy high school students, Mireya Macías, Sophia Liem, and Noor Ali, have been busy their senior year co-sponsoring House Bill 134. Mireya Macías explained, “Mandate menstrual products in public school restrooms and from there we… on the intersectionality that they will dress all-gender restrooms, and one men’s restroom for an educational building.”
This piece of legislation started from a project the students created at their own school to get free tampons and other feminine hygiene products in the bathrooms. Sophia Liem shared, “That started with a conversation with our Head of School, Julianne Puente, and she was very receptive to the idea; she started working on it. And a few weeks later, there were products and all of the bathrooms 6 through 12 – all gender and women’s.”
They quickly saw how much this was helping their fellow classmates. “When we walked into those bathrooms, we were ecstatic because we were met with sticky notes. They were notes of thank yous from the sixth graders who were appreciative of the products,” said Liem.
On Monday, the team of students went before lawmakers at the Roundhouse to introduce their legislation, with Representatives Christine Trujillo and Kristina Ortez sponsoring the bill. “I have three expert witnesses that will come up one at a time to speak to you about the purposes of the bill as they were the brain trust in creating the bill and approaching me to sponsor it,” Representative Trujillo told lawmakers.
Hours of work and research went into drafting House Bill 134, which they say will start more conversations around reproductive health. “We want to make sure that when students are in class, when these sixth graders are in class, they’re not worried that they’re bleeding onto a seat; they’re holding their pens, they’re focused on their subjects that they’re learning, and that they understand they are worthy of respect, and therefore that a basic necessity should be provided to them,” said Noor Ali.
High school students rallied in support of the bill by showing up to the Roundhouse and sharing their own experiences with menstruation with lawmakers. “My name is Andrew. I am a born and raised New Mexican and I am in strong support of this bill. I came out as trans my sophomore year of high school and that same year I missed over a dozen days of class because I did not have menstrual products at school,” said one student.
According to the bill, $3 million from the general fund would go to the Public Education Department to purchase and install menstrual product dispensers in public schools statewide.