Schools in southern Sarasota County to reopen Monday

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Legislation moving in the Florida House would ban discussion of menstrual cycles and other human sexuality topics in elementary grades.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Stan McClain would restrict public school instruction on human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and related topics to grades 6 through 12. McClain confirmed at a recent committee meeting that discussions about menstrual cycles would also be restricted to those grades.

“So if little girls experience their menstrual cycle in 5th grade or 4th grade, will that prohibit conversations from them since they are in the grade lower than sixth grade?” asked state Rep. Ashley Gantt, a Democrat who taught in public schools and noted that girls as young as 10 can begin having periods.

“It would,” McClain responded.

The GOP-backed legislation cleared the House Education Quality Subcommittee on Wednesday by a 13-5 vote mainly along party lines. 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 determined biologically at birth and set up more scrutiny of certain educational materials by the state Department of Education.

McClain said the bill’s intent is to bring uniformity to sex education across all of Florida’s 67 school districts and provide more pathways for parents to object to books or other materials they find inappropriate for younger children.

At the committee meeting, Gantt asked whether teachers could face punishment if they discuss menstruation with younger students.

“My concern is they won’t feel safe to have those conversations with these little girls,” she said.

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

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

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