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Judy Blume joins public outcry over Florida bill to ban girls talking about periods in school

Florida’s state legislature has introduced a new bill that will ban any discussion of menstrual cycles in elementary school grades. Now, people have shared their outrage over the ban, including Judy Blume – the famed author of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Blume, who’s 1970 novel has helped young readers explore topics of puberty and religion, took to Twitter on 18 March to share her cheeky reaction to the proposed bill. The 85-year-old author quoted a tweet from writer Carl Hiaasen, which read: “Florida bill would ban young girls from discussing periods in school. Here’s Ron DeSantis Universe, with GOP lawmakers nosing into your children’s most private matters. Welcome to ‘free’ Florida, right? What a farce.”

In response, Blume tweeted, “Sorry, Margaret.”

Her tweet, which gained more than 8,000 retweets and 44,000 likes, received much praise from both book lovers and critics of the ban.

“are you there, god? it’s me, fascism,” replied one Twitter user.

“Take him down, Queen! No politician is going to stop 5th grade girls from talking about periods!” said someone else.

“Hate this, but perfect tweet,” replied another fan. “Thank you, Ms Blume.”

Elsewhere on social media, people shared their reactions to the proposed ban, which was introduced in the Florida House on 15 March by Republican Rep Stan McClain.

On Sunday, former Fifth Harmony member Lauren Jauregui tweeted: “Im sincerely so ashamed of Florida. This is a biological phenomenon. I got mine when I was 11. 5th grade. This is some crazy sh*t.”

“This is so unbelievably dangerous,” wrote another Twitter user. “If anything – we need to focus more on this teaching in schools. I didn’t learn a lot of things about my body until age 30 and it could’ve saved me a lot of grief.”

“This is appalling,” another person tweeted. “So if a girl gets her period at school, she can’t tell a teacher or ask for help? And please don’t tell me she’ll learn this at home from her mom. I didn’t have a mom & needed to ask my female teachers some crucial questions at that age. Shame on Florida!”

One person simply said: “This place just gets crazier and crazier”

House Bill 1069 would restrict public school instruction on human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and related topics in elementary school grades. Instead, students in grades six through 12 would be permitted “instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, or health education”.

According to the Associated Press, the GOP-backed ban would also allow parents to object to books and other learning materials their children are exposed to in schools, continuing a series of legislation supported by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to transform the state’s education system.

During a House meeting last week, Democratic state Rep Ashley Gantt challenged the ban when she asked whether teachers could face punishment for discussing menstruation with their students.

“My concern is they won’t feel safe to have those conversations with these little girls,” she said, to which McClain reportedly replied “that would not be the intent” of the bill and that he is “amenable” to some changes to its language.

Gantt also noted that young girls could start their periods earlier than sixth grade, and asked whether girls experiencing menstruation younger than sixth grade would be banned from talking about periods as well.

“Does this bill prohibit conversations about menstrual cycles because we know that typically, the age is between 10 and 15,” Gantt asked. “So if little girls experience their menstrual cycle in fifth grade or fourth grade, would that prohibit conversations from them since they are in a grade lower than sixth grade?”

“It would,” McClain responded.

Although most periods start between ages 10 and 15, the National Health Service says that periods can begin as young as eight years old. This means that a Florida student affected by the proposed ban could likely be in third grade when a period begins.

The legislation was approved in the House Education Quality Subcommittee on 15 March by a 13-5 vote mainly along party lines. However, the ban discussing menstrual cycles in elementary school grades must be approved by another committee before it can reach the House floor.