TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Laws moving into the Florida House would ban discussion of menstrual cycles and other human sexuality topics in elementary school classes.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Stan McClain, would restrict public school instruction on human sexuality, STDs and related subjects to grades 6 through 12. McClain confirmed at a recent committee meeting that discussions about menstrual cycles would also be limited to those classes.
“So if little girls are experiencing their menstrual cycle in the 5th or 4th grade, is that going to ban talk from them since they are in the grade below the 6th grade?” asked Rep. Ashley Gantt, a Democrat who works in public schools taught and found that girls as young as 10 can get their period.
“It would,” McClain replied.
The GOP-backed legislation acquitted the House Educational Quality Subcommittee on Wednesday by a vote of 13 to 5, mostly along the party line. 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 sexual identity is biologically determined at birth, and scrutinize certain educational materials through the state Department of Education to permit.
McClain said the intent of the bill is to standardize sex education in all of Florida’s 67 school districts and give parents more opportunities to object to books or other materials they deem inappropriate for younger children.
At the committee meeting, Gantt asked if teachers could be penalized for discussing menstruation with younger students.
“My concern is that they’re not going to feel safe having these conversations with these little girls,” she said.
McClain said “that would not be the intention” of the bill and that it was “amenable” to some changes to its language. The measure must be approved by another committee before it can reach the house; a similar bill is pending in the Senate.
On Saturday, an email was sent to the office of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely believed to be a potential 2024 presidential nominee, seeking comment.