Updated: Mar 23
As a non-profit that aims to ease the physical pain and emotional trauma of young women surprisingly starting their periods during the school day, we feel the need to inform our group members of a new piece of legislation that is making its way through the Florida House.
Representative Stan McClain has introduced House Bill 1069 to the House Education Quality Subcommittee. This bill has many purposes but what we are focused on is language that seeks to ban the discussion of menstruation in elementary schools. McClain has said that the bill's intent is to bring uniformity to sex education across all of Florida. We understand that many feel that these discussions are the parents' job. But the reality is that there are children who don’t have their parents, are raised by a single dad or their grandparent, or have parents that either haven’t found a way to approach the subject or just are not capable of giving their children the tools they need.
Representative Ashley Gantt (a former elementary teacher) asked, “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?”.
“It would”, McClain responded.
Educating young women on periods, why they are getting them, and what is needed during this time is not sex education. It is biology education. We as women have no say in whether we menstrate or not and to deny basic education of a normal bodily function does not make sense. It is in fact a failure on society, as adults, if we do not inform them of something that is naturally occurring. We will fail these young girls if we allow this bill to pass as it currently is written.
Through our efforts of delivering oopsie bags to middle and high school nurses, we quickly discovered that girls were starting their periods in classes as low as third grade from these nurses along with parents in our group. This sparked our start of also delivering to elementary schools.
Imagine being 8 years old and having never learned about periods. You’re sitting in class and feel a strange sensation, maybe it’s cramps or maybe it's wet pants from bleeding through. You now have to stand up in front of your classmates to see the school nurse, confused and more than likely afraid. You were never told or spoken to about what having a period means and how it can feel all because of a law written by a man who has never had a period says your teachers and other school staff are not legally allowed to discuss it. This pain, this confusion, and this fear could have all been easily lessened if education had been given. The shame you feel follows you the rest of your life. This is a feeling no one ever forgets.
We ask that you do not look at this issue as a political issue, regardless of which side you land on. We ask that you not look at this as a sex education issue. We ask that you look at this as a basic human right to be educated on your own biology and to give our children the tools they need to succeed. We ask that you trust educators to give them a safe space to answer your children’s questions and help them understand what is happening to their bodies. Educators should not be in fear of helping the children they look after every week.
“A young girl’s body, and how it functions, are not a shameful dirty thing, they are part of life and the legislature shouldn’t be creating more confusion and shame around it,” - Fentrice Driskell. Our goal as the Oopsie Project has always been to provide products to girls in need and to help erase the shame that society has placed on a very natural human function. The last thing we as a society should desire is shame to be prescribed through our legislature. This bill promotes shame and erases all we’ve done through history for women’s rights.
This bill could potentially impact our deliveries to elementary school students. If this bill passes we are unsure of the future of our project with young women in grades k-5.
We encourage you to speak out against the language surrounding periods in this bill by the following methods.
Send a letter:
P.O. Box 5639
Ocala, Florida 34478
Send an email:
We appreciate all our community helps us do for the young women in our care. We couldn’t do what we do without you!
The Oopsie Team
To view the bill in its entirety, click here.