The “Don’t Say No Period” bill is the latest example of states’ efforts to curtail sex education

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Critics describe it as a “period no less” law.

fl House Bell 1069This legislative session, introduced by Republican Rep. Stan McClain, aims to restrict how, what and when health and sex education is taught in the state’s public schools. Most notably, it would bar Florida public school students from receiving instruction on human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, and related topics, including menstruation, before the sixth grade—despite the fact that for many, puberty and the life-altering changes that come with it begin. Children well. Before that. If signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, the measure will take effect across Florida on July 1. invoice It passed the House of Representatives on March 31 and is still pending in the Florida legislature.

This legislation represents a trend, often pushed by politicians, to limit how and when schools can teach sex education. There has been a 438 percent increase in proposed “divisive concept” bills such as parental rights and anti-gender affirmation bills in the past 18 months, according to Michelle Slaybo, director of social impact and strategic communications at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, or SIECUS. This legislation is driven primarily by conservative legislatures that seek to limit the topics that can be explored in public school classrooms, which often involve human sexuality, according to Middle Tennessee State University. Free Speech Center.
Health experts warn that such proposed restrictions often run counter to research that has been shown to keep children adequately informed, protected, and ready for healthy relationships in their personal lives.

“Without quality sexual health education, people are less likely to end up in healthy relationships,” said Laurie Dales, associate director for sexual health education at the Washington office of the Superintendent of Public Education. “Unless we normalize talking about bodies and romantic relationships, I don’t know how we can expect people to magically have these conversations in the context of a healthy relationship.”

How countries limit sex education

Evidence suggests that many schools fall far short of what health educators consider “good” for sex education.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Information about behaviors and experiences that pose health risks.”

Despite these NHS guidelines, states and school districts differ widely in how, when and how often they implement sex education. SIECUS has compiled a report, Country profiles, which provides an overview of a number of states’ requirements about sex education. The report, which is available online, also features in-depth information on individual state mandates. Here are some highlights of the report:

  • 29 States and the District of Columbia require sex education in K-12 public schools.
  • 38 States require HIV education.
  • 30 States ask schools Emphasize the importance of abstinence when providing sex education or HIV/STD education.
  • 19 States require instructions about condoms or contraception when providing sex education or HIV/STD education.
  • 13 States do not require that sex education or HIV/STD education be any of the following: age-appropriate, medically accurate, culturally responsive, or evidence-based/evidence-informed.
  • 13 States require sex education or HIV/STD instructions to include information on consent.
  • 10 States require culturally responsive sex education and HIV/STD education.
  • 9 States have policies that include emphasizing sexual orientation teachings about LGBTQ identities or discussing the sexual health of LGBTQ youth.
  • 6 States expressly require instructions to discriminate against LGBT people.
  • 5 States have laws requiring comprehensive sex education, which is the broadest and most profound form of sex education.

currently, fl Sex education is not required in any class.

What health experts recommend

However, health experts offer a consensus on what is developmentally appropriate.

“We try to put children’s needs first,” said Kathleen Either, director of the division of adolescent and school health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It is important for young people to understand what happens to their bodies at every age.”

Using this standard as a guideline, students in second grade should be able to use medically accurate terms, including terms for the genitals, Ethier explained.

This could also mean teaching students about related topics, such as puberty, long before House Bill 1069 proposes. Ittier noted that the age of puberty ranged from 8 to 13 years, and it ranged from 9 to 14 years for boys.

“Girls need to be prepared for what is going to happen to them. Otherwise, it can cause a lot of trauma and fear for them.

Dales agrees. “In an effort to protect children, when we keep children ignorant, we are actually doing them harm,” she said. “There have been decades of research showing that sexual health education is effective for many different reasons, especially if started early and repeated over time.”

Dils defines what it means to start this education early. When we talk about [sex education] Instruction starts early, it’s not just instruction about sex,” she said. “It’s about healthy relationships, communication, and setting boundaries.”

Balancing evidence-based education with what societies want

While Dells embraces starting these conversations with children as early as grade school, she knows not everyone is ready to do so. “Not all communities are open to this early-onset instruction. We are trying to find a balance in our state.

Ethier echoes the need to respect the wishes of local communities. “we [the CDC] Say: Here are the standards. But since decisions about the curriculum are made at the local level, there is no way to say that everyone has to do it. “If you have an area that has an abstinence policy, that needs to be taken into account.”

Health advocates may not be in a position to mandate how schools educate children about health and sexuality education. But this does not prevent them from presenting their enlightened view on the matter.

“As a psychiatrist who has studied adolescent health for many years, I think it’s very important for both boys and girls to understand who will be their friends and possibly romantic partners,” said Ethier. “The more information, the more skills we can give young people so that they can make healthy decisions, the better they will do through adolescence and into adulthood.”