Florida could ban girls’ menstrual talk in elementary grades

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Legislation moving in the Florida House would ban discussion of menstrual cycles and other topics about human sexuality in elementary grades.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Stan McClain would limit public school education in human sexuality, STDs, and related topics to grades 6 through 12. McClain confirmed at a recent committee meeting that even discussions of menstrual cycles would be limited to those grades.

“So if little girls experience their period in 5th or 4th grade, that will prohibit them from having conversations since they’re in the lower grade of 6th grade?” asked state Representative Ashley Gantt, a Democrat who has taught in public schools and noted that girls as young as 10 can start to period.

“It would be,” McClain replied.

GOP-backed legislation cleared the House Education Quality Subcommittee on Wednesday by a 13-5 vote mostly along party lines. It would also allow parents to object to books and other materials their children are exposed to, require schools to teach that a person’s gender identity is biologically determined at birth, and institute greater scrutiny of some educational materials by the Department of state education.

McClain said the intent of the bill is to bring uniformity to sex education across all 67 Florida school districts and provide more avenues for parents to object to books or other materials they deem inappropriate for younger children.

At the committee meeting, Gantt asked if teachers could be punished if they discuss periods with younger students.

“My concern is that they won’t feel safe having those conversations with these little girls,” she said.

McClain said that “that would not be the intent” of the bill and that he is “responsible” for some changes to its language. The measure must be approved by another committee before it can reach the Chamber; a similar bill is pending in the Senate.

An email request for comment was sent Saturday to the office of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.

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