A controversial bill in Florida that would ban educators from teaching menstruation and other sex education topics in elementary schools was introduced by the House Education Quality Subcommittee last week.
check sponsored by Florida Republican Representative Stan McClain and requires that only children in the sixth through 12th grades be able to study human sexuality topics such as reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases.
During subcommittee hearing last weekDemocratic Rep. Ashley Gant posed a question to McClain, asking if this would limit children who begin menstruating at a younger age from getting their questions answered at school.
“So if little girls start their menstrual cycle in the fifth or fourth grade, would that prevent them from talking because they are in grades below sixth?” Gant asked.
McClain replied, “It will.”
According to Cleveland ClinicFor girls in the US, their first period usually begins between the ages of 11 and 14, but may begin as early as 9 to 15 years of age. Children in the third and fourth grades are usually 8 to 10 years old.
Gant also asked whether teachers would face disciplinary action for discussing the topic of menstruation with students who are on their first period but not yet in sixth grade.
“We didn’t anticipate it, but that wouldn’t be the intention of the bill,” McClain said, adding that he “agrees” to changing parts of the text of the bill to allow for these conversations.
HB 1069, like several other proposed legislation in the state, also defines how educators can define sex and reproduction for their students, adding that reproductive roles are “fixed”.
The bill’s proposed version of sex education would “teach that sex is determined by biology and reproduction at birth; that biological men impregnate biological women by fertilizing a woman’s egg with a man’s sperm; that the woman then bears offspring; and that these reproductive roles are binary, stable and unchanging.”
The legislation also requires teachers to instruct high school students about abstinence, emphasizing heterosexual relationships.
“Educate abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students while teaching about the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage,” the bill says.
This isn’t the first time Florida schools have been in trouble over the topic of menstruation. Earlier this year, the state responded to harsh criticism by requiring female athletes to report their menstrual history on medical forms they must submit to participate in school sports activities. Florida removed that requirement in February, although it still requires athletes to record their “sex assigned at birth” and not just gender.