Alexandra Howard | Contributing Writer
Periods are not embarrassing, or sexual. Periods are normal.
Young girls don’t choose when they get their periods, but legislators in Florida will choose when they’ll learn about it. This will accelerate the already prominent stigma behind periods because of a new bill: HB 1069, aka Don’t Say Period.
This bill is horrific for the young girls in our state. The legislation categorizes periods, a natural part of a girl’s life, an obscene topic to learn. It’s dehumanizing. Thousands of girls will think something is wrong with their body, even when it’s acting normally.
This House Bill won’t allow teachers to display pads and tampons to explain how to properly manage bleeding. Even books explaining the science of menstrual cycles will suffer banishment by the state to avoid human sexuality.
This is shameful. At fifth grade and lower, menstruating girls feel helpless when talking about their periods. They deserve someone to confide in and tell them that it’s going to be okay, especially if they feel grueling period cramps or see vaginal blood for the first time.
Even if a young girl doesn’t get her period during this time, learning about periods helps them prepare for when they experience it.
As much as legislators and the governor don’t want to admit, not all young girls have loving, nuclear families either. Girls turn to educators since they’re the only ones in their lives who they’re able to confide to when something life-altering happens. A period, for example.
Maysie Buchheister is the Recruitment Co-Chair for FIU Generation Action, a network from Planned Parenthood that helps students in college learn about the importance of sexual and reproductive rights. She said learning about menstrual health in the fifth grade was essential, helping her learn about tampons, periods and more.
“Multiple generations now might not even get that opportunity in Florida, and it’s more sad than disgusting,” Buchheister said. “I really see this increasing at a rapid rate because parents are not always active in children’s lives, and schools might be their only source of information on the topic.”
In Catholic school, I remember being taught about menstrual health in the sixth grade. The grade level wouldn’t change in terms of this bill. But, as a student in this environment, it was already a severe taboo in itself. We’re only taught how to put the product on, how often to change it and basic science behind it.
Afterwards, in my freshman year of high school, I finally learned in-depth details about menstruation. Learning that information at fourteen helped explain so much about what was happening with my body in the past.
I mention this because the potential passing of this bill would aid the governor’s promotion for conservative ways of teaching. It would be all too similar to my education in Catholic elementary, middle, and high school. I’m fearful my experiences will be the same for other young girls.
Young girls need to be fully informed of their periods and their bodies when they’re young. They don’t deserve to be in the dark for too long, or else problems arises.
PERIOD., a chapter from ‘PERIOD. A Menstrual Movement’, advocates for the end of period poverty through donation drives and period education. Gabriela Barahona, president of PERIOD., explained that lack of period education in elementary school causes young girls to ignore the signs of serious health issues.
“Ovary health and menstruation health is something that is not covered, like checking yourself regularly for cysts,” Barahona said. “You should know how long you can have tampons in you and how long you have to wait until you change them – it becomes dangerous. I know that it’s something that girls are not aware of.”
Although it’s rare, Toxic Shock Syndrome can happen while wearing pad, tampons with high absorbance and other menstrual hygiene products. Some symptoms sound like common cold and flu indicators, such as nausea and high fever, which can cause a young girl to ignore its severity.
Not knowing these symptoms forms a disconnection between a menstruating individual and their own body in college and much older. Which later affects their confidence in forming social connections as they attempt to manage their periods at the same time.
DeSantis and the legislators supporting HB1069 should sit down and research how it’ll affect millions of young girls in Florida. They need to be mindful on how this piece of legislation will cause unforgettable trauma on how elementary school girls see their periods and look at their bodies.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.