A bill backed by the Republicans in Florida, limits sexual health education to students in sixth grade through twelfth grade. This bill would also ban girls below the sixth grade from discussing periods in school.
In a subcommittee on Wednesday, Democratic State Representative Ashley Grantt asked if this bill would prohibit conversations about menstruation for girls who got their periods before sixth grade, considering that girls begin menstruating between the ages of 10 and 15, which would include fourth and fifth graders as well.
State Representative Stan McClain, who proposed this bill, responded, “It would.” Later, McClain said that prohibiting young girls from discussing periods “would not be the intent of the bill” and that he would be welcoming towards potential amendments.
Florida Bill Bans Period Conversation
The bill was subsequently passed by the subcommittee. However, as of now, this bill has no amendments that remove the ban on younger girls discussing menstruation. How can that be fair to not just girls in Florida but to every woman around the globe? Why should there be a restriction for younger girls to discuss menstruation, which is a very natural process in a woman’s body?
Right now, if this topic is up for debate, it is because we have come a long way in removing the taboo around menstruation. This law is highly regressive because it not only takes away the basic right of expression but also reestablishes the stigma around menstruation.
According to Healthline, the average age at which girls get their first period is between 10 and 15 years old. However, due to the changed lifestyle and medical conditions, there are cases where girls as young as four are affected. Emily Dover, who lives in Australia, got her first period at the age of four. While Dover suffers from health issues, girls can start their periods around the age of 8 as well.
My point is, when this is the case, shouldn’t girls be educated about periods as soon as they reach an understanding age? And this age could differ from one child to another, so it’s best for parents to decide when to teach their children about menstruation.
Besides, young girls could have an older sister who has started her period, see their mother using a pad or tampon, or see these products on TV or in the supermarket. It is not fair to put parents in a position to hide or misinform young girls about menstruation. Besides, it’s very obvious that when children learn or come across something new, they will have the curiosity to find out more and share it with their friends.
Given all these factors, how is it even logical to prohibit younger girls from discussing menstruation at school? If adults are going to restrict children from discussing this subject at school, won’t this send a message that menstruation is a taboo topic? Are we going to teach the younger generation that menstruation is shameful?
While it is noteworthy that the lawmakers are open to amendments, why was it even passed in the subcommittee in the first place? Girls and boys alike should be educated about menstruation as soon as they are old enough to understand the concept. A lot more consolidated effort from the entire world has to be put in to normalise menstruation and shatter the stigma around it.
This law seems to bring back the taboo around menstruation, which in fact has not even been eradicated completely. In countries like India, many women are forced to follow regressive and superstitious practises during menstruation because of the stigma. So, isn’t this law taking society one huge step backward when we are supposed to be progressing rapidly?
Suggested Reading: Why We Need To Ramp Up The Efforts Put Being Into Menstrual Health Literacy