The New York City Council voted Tuesday to expand the free distribution of feminine-hygiene products in schools, shelters and jails and require all city establishments to permit anyone regardless of biological sex to use single-occupant bathrooms.
The package of three feminine-hygiene bills passed 49-0. The rules would apply to jails, shelters, public schools with sixth- through 12th-graders, and other city facilities.
“Feminine hygiene products are not a luxury for women,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), who leads the chamber.
If Mayor Bill de Blasio signs the bills — which passed with a veto-proof majority — schools would make the products available in student bathrooms, and jails would have to provide inmates with the product available upon request as soon as practicable.
At many public schools, students who need tampons or pads must seek permission for a hall pass, visit a counselor, see the school nurse, and then make a trip to the bathroom, said Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Queens). Currently, jail inmates get a limited supply, and those wanting additional supplies or more absorptive products must pay.
The council’s action follows the State Legislature’s approval in May to exempt feminine-hygiene products from state and local sales taxes. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said he will sign the legislation.
Also Tuesday, the council voted 47-2 for a bill requiring establishments, including businesses and private clubs, to permit anyone, including transgender people or otherwise “gender nonconforming” individuals, to use single-occupant bathrooms, said prime sponsor Daniel Dromm (D-Queens). Establishments would need to post gender-neutral signs by Jan. 1.
Dromm said his bill would send a signal to states such as North Carolina — which recently passed legislation restricting bathroom use to one’s biological sex — where he believes lawmakers are “perversely obsessed with the bathroom habits of others.”
In other business, the council:
Voted 38-11 to delay the start of a law to require many retailers to charge a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper carryout shopping bags to Feb. 15 — 4 1⁄2 months later than under the original legislation instituting the fees. The State Legislature has threatened to ban or cap the fee, and override of the council’s authority.
Mandated by a vote of 49-0 the licensing of anyone hawking tickets on the street for services such as entertainment and sightseeing bus tours. The city could revoke the licenses of those committing fraud or being overly aggressive.
The mayor’s office did not say whether de Blasio would sign the legislation.