USA TODAY International Edition

Florida GOP bill could ban girls’ conversati­ons about menstruati­on before sixth grade

- Ken Tran

As local bills on gender, sexuality and diversity make their way through Florida’s state legislatur­e, new legislatio­n could ban any discussion of menstrual cycles in school before the sixth grade.

That breaks from the advice of medical providers who recommend talking to children about puberty and changes in their bodies before they occur.

First periods typically start between ages 10 and 15 but can begin as young as 9 years old. That means a student could likely be in third grade up to tenth grade, or later when a period begins.

During a subcommitt­ee hearing in the Florida House on Wednesday, Republican state Rep. Stan McClain said his bill would include restrictio­ns on girls talking about their menstrual cycles. The legislatio­n doesn’t specifically mention periods or menstruati­on but McClain told a subcommitt­ee hearing that it would include restrictio­ns on conversati­ons about girls’ menstrual cycles.

Bill would ban discussion of periods before sixth grade

House Bill 1069 would only permit “instructio­n in acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sexually transmitte­d diseases, or health education” only in grades six through 12.

Democratic state Rep. Ashley Gantt noted that girls could start their periods earlier than the sixth grade and asked for clarification on if the bill would ban those girls from talking about them.

“Does this bill prohibit conversati­ons about menstrual cycles because we know that typically, the age is between 10 and 15,” Gantt asked. “So if little girls experience their menstrual cycle in fifth grade or fourth grade, would that prohibit conversati­ons from them?”

McClain confirmed that the bill’s language would do exactly that: “It would” McClain responded.

Legislatio­n against ‘ woke ideology’

The bill is one of the latest in a series that are expected to be signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as he seeks to transform Florida’s education system in his fight against what he calls “woke ideology.”

The legislatio­n that DeSantis has signed so far has included barring transgende­r student- athletes from participat­ing in school sports and new restrictio­ns on discussion­s of sexual orientatio­n and gender identity in school classrooms.

It’s a strategy that is also being used by Republican­s in Congress, with the House this week expected to vote on the “Parents Bill of Rights,” a legislatio­n effort in direct response to parents who have been seeking more authority over their children’s education during the pandemic.

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