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Florida lawmakers look to ban ‘period talk’ in local schools

Mere months before discussions about sexual orientation become prohibited in state-wide Florida schools, Republicans are now looking to do the same for lessons and discussions about menstruation.

Republicans in Florida have been on a mad one for quite some time.

Last year, they passed the Don’t Say Gay bill, which will ban school staff and pupils from leading or discussing any conversations about sexual orientation before they enter grade four.

Considering an increasing number of children now grow up within dynamic households and will have started developing their own identities during this time, the bill was heavily contested and protested against by the public.

Regardless, it will come into effect in June of this year.

Now, Florida lawmakers want to ban elementary schoolgirls from learning and talking about menstrual periods during the school day. The bill will seek to disallow teachers from holding lessons about menstruation before grade six.

Why is this potentially a bad move?

First, many girls start their periods before they enter grade six. Some begin menstruating as young as age nine.

Secondly, a first period could happen to students while at school. Without education (or the freedom to consult staff about it) they might be unsure of what’s happening to them or how to deal with it.

Those opposing the newly drafted bill have pointed this out. They question how young girls should cope with their new experiences when they are prevented from consulting their peers or teachers.

Democrat representative Ashley Gantt aptly questioned, ‘So if little girls experience their menstrual cycle in 5th grade or 4th grade, will [the bill] prohibit conversations from them since they are in [a] grade lower than sixth grade?’

‘It would,’ replied Republican Stan McClain.

As a result, the bill could create obstacles for young girls menstruating during school hours. Periods won’t just disappear from the centre of many young people’s experiences just because some 60-year-old, white congressman wants them to.

‘A young girl’s body, and how it functions, are not a shameful dirty thing. They are part of life and the legislature shouldn’t be creating more confusion and shame around it,’ said Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat and House minority leader.


On top of banning discussions about periods, the bill says that lessons on ‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, or health education’ can only be taught to students between grades 6 to 12.

Republican McClain said that the bill would give parents more say in what is taught in school curriculums, alongside improving uniformity of sex education across the state.

The bill passed the subcommittee by 13 votes to 5 and shares further characteristics with the Don’t Say Gay bill.

It appears to build on it further, requiring schools to teach that ‘sex is determined by biology and reproductive function at birth’ and will frame reproductive roles as ‘binary, stable, and unchangeable.’

Planned Parenthood has spoken out, calling the drafted legislation ‘absurd’. The organisation says that the bill presents a ‘reductive and binary view of sex,’ while disallowing flexibility of sex ed lessons on a local level.

Although Stan McClain has said he is ‘open’ to amending the drafted bill, there is insofar very little clarity on what kind of changes would be made.

For now, it looks like Florida’s lawmakers are attempting to censor key facets of life from the local education system.

But in an age where young people learn a great deal about the world in digital spaces like TikTok – how successful can this kind of sheltering mission really be?