In further step toward equity, Salt Lake City to provide free tampons, pads in men’s restrooms

“It’s so important,” says Utah Pride Center official, “... to normalize the idea that trans men exist.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City plans to put free menstrual hygiene products in men’s restrooms on city-owned property.

Salt Lake City is making menstrual hygiene products more widely available in its restrooms.

After a brief discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, officials said they would offer free pads and tampons in men’s restrooms on city-owned property.

The move expands on a 2019 council decision that made the products available at no cost in all women’s restrooms in city facilities.

“It’s important to support people who menstruate,” said council member Amy Fowler, “regardless of their gender identity.”

Fowler, who proposed the idea at the council meeting, said making pads and tampons available in all restrooms gives those who visit city facilities a way to manage menstruation without bringing negative, and potentially harmful, attention to themselves

“This … allows for people who have periods,” she said, “to take care of themselves hygienically and comfortably and without shame.”

The city says the cost can be absorbed by the existing budget. The hygiene products will likely roll out in coming months.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who helped lead the charge for free pads and tampons as a council member in 2019, said in a statement that the city strives for ordinances, policies and services that improve equity for all.

“I’m grateful to the City Council for their partnership and support,” she said, “to bring necessary hygiene products to every city restroom.”

First-year council member Alejandro Puy wrote in a text message that he is proud of the city’s efforts to be more inclusive and that everyone should feel safe and welcome in Salt Lake City buildings.

“Our trans, nonbinary and two-spirit members of the community” he said, “deserve to feel safe and comfortable while accessing menstrual products (regardless) of what bathroom they use.”

Jessica Dummar, co-CEO of the Utah Pride Center, called the city’s move an “incredibly important recognition of the entirety of humanity.”

“It’s so important, what they’re doing,” she said, “to normalize the idea that trans men exist, that they are welcome and that their needs are just as important as everyone else’s.”

Salt Lake City’s decision to make period products more widely available follows a similar effort at the state’s flagship university. In April, the Associated Students of the University of Utah announced its partnership with U. facilities in permanently providing the products in all academic building restrooms.