Student Health Rights


Do I have the right to access and receive health services as a student?

YES. In California, students have many rights when it comes to accessing health services. In fact, California has some of the strongest laws in the country that protect your right to access certain sensitive health care services, including reproductive and sexual health services, on a confidential basis. These services are sometimes called “confidential medical services” or “sensitive services.”

Does my age affect what types of medical services I can access as a student?

YES. In California, students of any age have the right to access birth control (including emergency contraception), pregnancy testing and prenatal care, abortion services, and rape, abuse, or assault services confidentially and without needing anyone else’s permission.

If you are 12 years of age or older, you also have the right to access mental health treatment, drug and/or alcohol treatment, and prevention, testing, and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.

It is your right to get these health services confidentially and without needing anyone else’s permission. Generally, this means the clinic or doctor cannot tell anyone—including your family—why you were there unless you allow them to.

However, if you are a minor and you report physical abuse or sexual abuse to a healthcare provider, your provider must report the abuse to the police or child abuse authorities, who can then contact your parent/guardian.

It is up to you to decide what information you share with your health care provider.

Do I need to bring my parent to come with me to access these medical services?

NO. You can go to your appointment alone, but if you would like to bring someone with you for support you can. However, if you can, and it is safe to do so, we encourage you to talk to your parent, guardian, or other trusted adult for support.

If I am a minor, can I get help paying for my confidential medical services?

YES. In California, you also have the right to free or low-cost reproductive and sexual health care services if you do not have insurance, do not want to use your parent’s or spouse’s insurance, or cannot afford it on your own.

The Medi-Cal Minor Consent Program confidentially covers various services for eligible minors.  Learn more about Medi-Cal Consent at

If I am a minor and a beneficiary on my parent’s or guardian’s health insurance plan, will they be able to access my medical records relating to abortion?

NO. California law requires that health insurers take steps keep your medical records private, even if you are not the policy holder. This includes not sharing your history of “sensitive services,” including reproductive and sexual health care and mental or behavioral health care, with your parent or guardian unless you have given your express permission.

Health insurers are required to send communications relating to sensitive services directly to the person who received the medical services. However, to ensure your records remain private, it is strongly recommended that you contact your health insurer to confirm your mailing address, email address, and/or phone number to receive communications.

Can I go see a doctor during school hours to access these specific services?

YES. California law requires schools to excuse students for medical appointments they can consent to on their own, such as those described above. Schools cannot require parental notification or permission prior to releasing the student for that medical appointment. Schools must keep information about your appointment confidential, and cannot share that information with anyone, including a parent or guardian.

Your school can call the doctor or clinic to confirm you have an appointment and the appointment’s time, but cannot ask about the kind of care you are receiving. Your teachers must allow you to make up any missed assignments.


Do I have the right to access free menstrual products at school?

YES. Thanks to student-led advocacy, the Menstrual Equity for All Act (California Education Code section 35292.6), requires all California public schools serving any grade between 3-12 to provide free menstrual products—including both tampons and pads—in all women’s restrooms, all-gender restrooms, and in at least one men’s restroom.

California public schools include schools operated by a school district or county office of education, and charter schools.

By when does my school have to comply with the Menstrual Equity for All Act?

NOW. As of the start of the 2022-23 school year, schools serving any grade between 6-12 were required to comply with all provisions of The Menstrual Equity for All Act. Schools serving grades 3-5 have until the start of the 2024-25 school year to comply with all provisions of the Menstrual Equity for All Act. See below for more on what you can do if your school is not complying with the law.

Do I have the right to know about the Menstrual Equity for All Act?

YES. The Menstrual Equity for All Act requires schools to post notices telling students about their right to access free menstrual products in every restroom where menstrual products must be provided. This notice must include the contact information, including both an email address and telephone number, for whoever is responsible for maintaining the supply of menstrual products in that restroom so you can contact them to report if there are no products or other issues.

Do I have to ask for free menstrual products at my school to get them?

If your school serves any grade 3-12, menstrual products must be made free and available in all women’s restrooms, all-gender restrooms, and at least one men’s restroom and you should not have to ask for free menstrual products each time you need them. For example, you should not have to go to the nurse’s office to ask for a pad or tampon when you need it. Learn more below on what you can do if this is happening at your school.

In which restrooms can I find free menstrual products at my school?

A MIX. Schools teaching any grades 3-12 must make menstrual products available in all women’s restrooms and all-gender restrooms and at least one men’s restroom.

As of 2017, California’s Equal Restroom Access Act requires “single-user” restrooms to be marked as “all gender” restrooms, so all “single-user” restrooms should also be stocked with free menstrual products.

Is there something I can do if my school is supposed to provide free menstrual products, but isn’t?

YES. No matter the situation, there are several steps you can take if your school is not providing free menstrual products when it is supposed to. Whether your school has not started implementing the law at all, or if it is not implementing the law correctly or fully, you can make a big impact.

Start the conversation. First, you can contact your principal, vice principal or other school administrator and let them know that California Education Code Section 35292.6 requires your school to make pads and tampons available for free in school restrooms and ask when they will implement the law.

Share written information. If they want more information, or just refuse to implement the law, then you can send your school a letter with more information about the law asking them to fix the problem. Check out the sample letter at the end of this page to get you started. If your school still does not provide menstrual products, you can also contact the superintendent of your school district and send them a copy of your letter. You can also share a link to our district handbook, which is a guide for school districts on how to implement the law, linked at the bottom of this page.

Advocate. If your school still refuses or fails to help, you can file a written Uniform Complaint Procedure (“UCP”) complaint and/or Williams Complaint. Learn more about UCP complaints at: Always make sure you keep a dated copy of your complaint for your records.

Also remember you’re not alone! Through all these steps, you should work with your fellow students and school community to organize and advocate for your school to follow the law and have a strong menstrual products program. For more organizing and advocacy support on how to make sure your school is doing all it can to implement the Menstrual Equity for All Act, check out the student organizing toolkit linked at the bottom of this page.

Contact us. If you need more help, you can also contact us at: ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, or ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

What if students are being bullied or harassed for accessing period products at school?

California students have the right to feel safe and welcome at school. This means you have a right to an inclusive and affirming learning environment free from discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), intimidation and bullying based on your actual or perceived gender, gender identity, and/or gender expression, among other identities. You also have a right to report, and should report, bullying or harassment at school. The law requires school staff to intervene immediately if they see student harassment, discrimination, intimidation, or bullying happening and it is safe for them to do so.

You can learn more about your right to be protected from bullying and harassment and what to do if you are experiencing bullying and harassment at: .

Additionally, the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA) (Education Code 51930-51939), which became law in 2016, requires that all California public schools, including charter schools, teach comprehensive sex ed and HIV prevention education, which includes information about menstruation, to students at least once in middle school and once in high school. Ensuring strong menstruation education as part of comprehensive sex ed allows all students to learn about menstruation and can help reduce stigma and shaming around menstruation. Learn more about your right to comprehensive sex ed at:

Can I be penalized for not participating in school activities like P.E. due to my period?

IT DEPENDS. California law says that students may be temporarily exempted from physical education classes if they are “ill or injured.” If you are seeking an excused absence from physical education classes or sports practices because of cramps or other symptoms related your period, you can provide a note from a parent/guardian, medical provider, or speak with your teacher or coach, specifying why you need to be excused. While school officials have discretion to grant or deny individual student’s request to be excused, schools cannot discriminate against students based on their gender.

If you feel your school is unfairly punishing you because of your period or your need to access menstrual products, you can file a written Uniform Complaint Procedure (“UCP”) discrimination complaint with your school. Learn more at: If bullying or harassment is part of the problem, check out your rights around bullying and harassment at: If you do file a complaint, always make sure you keep a dated copy for your records.