Sunday, March 19, 2023, 3:12 am

ABC7 Chicago 24/7 Stream

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Legislation passing the Florida House of Representatives would ban the discussion of menstrual cycles and other topics of human sexuality in elementary schools.

The bill, initiated by Republican Rep. Stan McClain, would limit teaching in public schools about human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and related topics to grades 6 through 12. At a recent committee meeting, McClain confirmed that discussion of menstrual cycles will also be limited to those classes.

“So if little girls get their periods in 5th or 4th grade, that bans them from talking because they’re in a grade below sixth?” asked state Rep. Ashley Gantt, a Democrat who has taught in public schools and noted that girls as young as 10 can start menstruating.

“It would,” McClain replied.

The GOP-backed legislation cleared the House Education Quality Subcommittee on Wednesday by a largely party-line 13-5 vote. 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 establish closer oversight of certain educational materials by the state Department of Education.

McClain said the goal of the bill is to unify sex education across all 67 Florida school districts and give parents more ways to object to books or other material they believe are inappropriate for younger children.

At the committee meeting, Gantt asked if teachers could be punished if they discuss menstruation with younger students.

“My concern is that they won’t feel safe talking to these little girls,” she said.

McClain said “that would not be the intent” of the bill and that it is “amenable” to some changes in its wording. That measure must be approved by another committee before it can reach the House; a similar bill is pending in the Senate.

An email seeking comment was sent Saturday to the office of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely viewed as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.

Copyright © 2023, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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