Republican state lawmakers in Florida are pushing an appalling anti-sex education bill that would ban period talk for children below Grade 6 — and promote a ton of misinformation about sexual health.
The bill in question, Florida HB 1069, proposes that any and all health education involving HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, or “human sexuality” be relegated to “Grades 6 through 12.” It would require instructors to define sex as “determined by biology”; teach abstinence as “the expected standard” outside of marriage, effectively nixing comprehensive sex ed; espouse the benefits of “monogamous heterosexual marriage” to school-age children; and establish a process to ban books deemed “inappropriate or unsuitable” for certain age groups.
Is your blood boiling yet? Unfortunately, it gets worse: HB 1069 would also prohibit anyone below 6th Grade from talking about menstrual periods.
“Does this bill prohibit conversations about menstrual cycles?” State Rep. Ashley Gantt, a Democrat representing Miami, asked in a recent legislative hearing. “We know that typically, the age is between 10 and 15, so if little girls experience their menstrual cycles in 5th Grade or 4th Grade, would that prohibit conversations since they are in a grade lower than 6th Grade?”
“It would,” replied Republican State Rep. Stan McClain, the bill’s author.
This bill is dangerous and absurd for a litany of reasons. It should go without saying, but periods are a basic function of reproductive biology for people with uteruses. Getting your period is nothing to fear or be ashamed of, but do you know what is shameful? Depriving young people of access to factual information about how their bodies work.
What’s more, abstinence-only sex education doesn’t work. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have confirmed the practical and ethical shortcomings of withholding information about safer sex practices from teens. Promoting abstinence leaves young people who are having sex vulnerable to STIs and pregnancy. Simply put, this approach isn’t backed by science; it’s in service of a political agenda.
HB 1069 has only been heard by the State House’s Education Quality Subcommittee one out of the mandatory three times, so its future is unclear. Regardless, this bill is just the latest example of state lawmakers targeting people’s sexual and reproductive autonomy.
In the wake of Roe v. Wade‘s shocking reversal last summer, at least 17 U.S. states have outlawed or severely restricted abortions. That includes Florida, which banned the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Providers are challenging this legislation.
HB 1069’s verbiage defining sex as “binary, stable, and unchangeable” is also in line with the Sunshine State’s multiple legislative attacks on the rights of transgender and nonbinary Floridians.
“These lawmakers are so obsessed with power and control that they are literally prohibiting young women from talking about menstruation,” Florida Planned Parenthood PAC tweeted. “Mandating birth, restricting sex ed, and vetoing funding for birth control is simply not enough for them.”
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