‘Don’t say period’ moving forward

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis surrounded by tampons and pads. Photo courtesy: Salon.com

A new bill that targets LGBTQ+ youth and students in K-12 is close to being passed by Florida’s Legislature.

House Bill 1069, now dubbed “Don’t Say Period” by critics, will ban health education and conversations about sexual orientation, sexual reproduction and gender identity through grade eight.

Rep. Stan McClain, R-Ocala, is the bill’s sponsor. The bill focuses on defining the term “sex” by enforcing employees to teach that a person’s sexual identity is determined by what sex they were assigned at birth.

If this bill passes, public schools employees and students will be prohibited “from being required to use, from providing and being asked to provide certain titles and pronouns,” according to the bill’s text.

#Freetheperiod is a student-led organization on Florida A&M’s campus that teaches people about menstrual equity and provides free menstrual products in the bathrooms across the campus.

Kiera Macklin, one-half of the events chairs for #Freetheperiod, believes this bill is unnecessary, invalidating, and “shows no support to that marginalized community who probably already feels alone.”

“Growing up, you have a hard enough time figuring out who you are, what you like,” Macklin said. “And not being able to talk about that and being unable to have your gender expression makes it very hard to be comfortable in yourself and who you are as a person.”

The Department of Education must approve any sexual education material. The new bill will allow parents to object to certain books and any other materials their children are exposed to.

If young girls experience their menstrual cycle before the eighth grade, they will be prohibited from discussing it at school.

According to Healthline.com, the average age a girl gets her period is 12 years old. However, it’s not unusual for a first period to happen as young as 8 years old.

Macklin says she fears for the younger generation, and not being able to talk about their reproductive system in school is strange.

“Luckily, I grew up with a mom in the health-care field, but a lot of people are not as fortunate and don’t have access to resources. I know some people whose parents didn’t tell them what a [menstrual cycle] is. They just had to figure it out. So not being able to have those conversations in school is a little bit more than bizarre.” Macklin said.

Macklin believes the Legislature is focusing on the wrong things.

“If we can’t even talk about something as basic as a period, your head is in the wrong place. People are getting shot up in the school, and you’re worried about if I go by, they/them pronouns,” Macklin said.

House Bill 1069 has been approved by the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate to the Fiscal Policy Committee on April 3, where it remains.