March 31, 2023

Guv signs two bills that affect student health

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two bills on Thursday that impact student health: one bill codifies School-Based Health Centers into state statute and the other will make free menstrual products available in every public school.

HB 134, sponsored by state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, requires a menstrual product dispensary in every girl’s bathroom in every public elementary, middle and high school and one placed in one boy’s bathroom in each school. The products will be free and several young women spoke during the legislative session, testifying during committee hearings about the need for these products to eliminate shame and help students stay focused on their studies and school sports.

SB 397, sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, does not make any changes to  school-based health centers, but it does codify them into state statute to prevent the possibility that they could be eliminated based on political whim in the future. 

School-based health centers have been in existence in New Mexico for 25 years. The majority receive funding through the New Mexico Department of Health and DOH helps with logistics, but the local school districts determine if they want one and, if they do, what sorts of services are provided and which provider the school contracts with.

In addition to primary care services, the centers also provide behavioral health care for students if the schools request it. More than 70 schools have school-based health centers.

Advocates for both bills said the passage of these bills will help with school attendance. Advocates for the school-based health centers said having the centers in the schools helps with learning because students can focus better when their immediate health needs can be addressed in the schools.