A Florida lawmaker is championing a bill that would regulate what the state’s public schools teach children under a certain age about a number of topics, including health and sex.
Republican Representative Stan McClain, a member of the state legislature, is sponsoring the bill, known as House Bill 1069.
The bill proposes amending the state’s existing education laws to clarify that teaching about “immune deficiencies, sexually transmitted diseases, or health education” may “not occur.” from class 6 to 12 only.
The bill does not include specific language about period discussions — in fact, the word, or the word “menstruation”, does not appear in the current version of the bill.
But, according to the Associated Press, McClain was asked at a recent committee meeting whether the bill would prevent discussion of menstruation before the sixth grade, and he answered in the affirmative.
“So if little girls know their menstrual cycle in 5th or 4th grade, does that ban the conversation for them because they’re in lower than 6th grade?” asked state Rep. Ashley Gantt, a Democrat who taught in public schools and noted that girls as young as 10 can start menstruating, according to the AP.
“It will be,” McClain replied.
At the committee meeting, Ms Gantt asked if teachers could be penalized if they discussed menstruation with younger students.
“My concern is that they won’t feel safe having these conversations with these little girls,” she said.
Mr McClain said ‘that would not be the intention’ of the bill and that he ‘accepts’ some changes to its wording.
Although Mr. McClain is the sponsor of the bill, he is not the arbiter of how its text should be interpreted. It can change and develop its language as it goes through the system, but once the bill is drafted, then it will be up to the courts to interpret what it includes and what it cannot.
The measure must be approved by another committee before it reaches the floor of Parliament; a similar bill is pending in the Senate.
The bill also proposes adding language that states that students should learn “that sex is determined by biology and reproductive function at birth; that biological men fertilize biological women by fertilizing the female egg and male sperm; that the woman then gives birth to children; and that these parenting roles are binary, stable and unchanging.
Existing laws already state that Florida public schools must teach “abstention from extramarital sexual activity as the expected standard for all school-age students while teaching the benefits of same-sex marriage,” and “emphasize the fact that abstinence and all sexual activities. It is a certain way to avoid pregnancy outside of marriage [and] sexually transmitted diseases.