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‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ Cast and Crew Slam Ron Desantis’ ‘Don’t Say Period’ Bill

Judy Blume and Kelly Fremon Craig with the cast of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Judy Blume and the cast and crew of the new film Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret have some choice words for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who may soon be signing a bill dubbed “Don’t Say Period” into law in Florida. Blume penned the famous coming-of-age novel the movie is based on back in 1970. After 50 years of having the book challenged and censored for its discussion of menstruation, sexuality, and religion, Blume finally trusted Kelly Fremon Craig to faithfully adapt the beloved novel to the big screen. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret premieres on April 28, 2023, but has already been receiving stellar early reviews from critics.

The film follows Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Fortson) as she navigates adolescence and questions her religion. Just like the book, it features a frank discussion of menstruation, as Margaret can’t wait for the onset of her period, which is rightfully treated as a celebratory milestone.

The film feels especially timely considering that, less than a month ago, Florida House Bill 1069 passed in the state’s House. The bill seeks to restrict all health education including topics about sexuality, reproduction, and sexually transmitted diseases, to grades 6–12. Menstruation is one of the topics that falls under this health education restriction, which means that no discussion/education on menstruation will be allowed in the classroom for anyone below sixth grade.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), menstruation can start in girls as young as eight years old. Hence, HB 1069 raises the question of how girls who start puberty before sixth grade are supposed to understand what’s happening to their bodies or if they’ll even be able to seek out a teacher for aid if they begin menstruating at school. If the bill passes the Senate, it could begin dictating when and how public schools teach about health and sexuality as soon as July 1.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret crew slams “Don’t Say Period” bill

Margaret and her mother in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
(Dana Hawley/Lionsgate)

When it comes to removing the stigma around menstruation, it seems to always be one step forward, two steps back. This is why, while there is much to celebrate about the release of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Blume and the film’s cast and crew are acknowledging that more still needs to be done. The “Don’t Say Period” bill hits close to home for Blume, especially as she (much to her regret) lives in Key West, FL, with DeSantis as her governor. Given that DeSantis seems to have no clue about what age menstruation starts or how it works, she sought to remind him that stopping girls from speaking about their periods isn’t going to stop them from having their periods. She told Yahoo Entertainment,

I live in Key West. Although I don’t like to think of it as Florida, I have that governor [Ron DeSantis] and I have that legislature who is trying to control what girls can even say. I don’t know if he’s going to try to control what actually happens to them, because I have news for him: It’s going to happen whether he likes it or not.

Forston and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’s producers Julie Ansell and James L. Brooks also slammed the bill. All three expressed confusion and shock over why something so natural as menstruation is being treated like it’s shameful. Fortson made an excellent point about how menstruation can feel “scary” to young girls and how education and discussion are necessary to remind them that they’re not alone and they do have resources, especially with the stigma and misinformation on menstruation that abounds.

Ansell followed up by stating, “It’s sort of always been mind-boggling to us that you can’t talk about something that is happening to 50 percent of the world’s population.” Meanwhile, Brooks wanted to know, “What can’t men say in Florida?” Since the state wants to dictate what girls as young as 8 are allowed to talk about, it’s strange that there are no stipulations or concerns about what men are or aren’t allowed to say.

Films and books like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret are providing very necessary resources for young girls to learn about their periods in a positive manner, but it’s not enough. Many girls are restricted in what resources they can access and come from families that won’t talk about menstruation, either. Schools must serve as the one wholly safe place where girls of any age can discuss and learn about their bodies and where boys can be educated to view menstruation in a non-stigmatized manner.

Fortunately, in more ways than one, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and its crew are fiercely advocating for women and girls to be able to say period.

(via Yahoo Entertainment, featured image: Dana Hawley / Lionsgate)

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Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.