Florida is debating whether to require all high school athletes to disclose their menstrual history.
Parents and experts generally agree that it’s important for student athletes to be in good health. But many critics say a new draft physical evaluation form by the Florida High School Athletics Association (FHSAA), which makes the menstruation questions mandatory, is part of the state’s attempt to roll back transgender rights.
They argue that that school districts should not have the right to access and store such personal information as a condition of competing in high school sports. The menstrual history questions have been part of Florida’s athletics pre-participation form for more than 20 years, but they have previously been optional. Now, many argue that it’s time to remove them altogether.
Here’s what to know.
What are the questions Florida will ask female student-athletes about their menstrual history?
The updated draft of the physical evaluation form, published online on the FHSAA website asks athletes the following questions:
- Have you had a menstrual period?
If yes, athletes must answer the following:
- How old were you when you had your first menstrual period?
- When was your most recent menstrual period?
- How many periods have you had in the past 12 months?
Other than these, the form mainly asks about the athlete’s cardiac health, medications and history of injury.
What would happen if Florida makes these questions mandatory to answer?
As of now, student athletes in Florida can opt out of answering these questions, but if students choose not to respond under circumstances where it’s mandatory to, they risk failing the medical examination that all athletes must successfully pass to participate in a sport.
Critics have noted that this policy would be a major challenge for transgender athletes who may have to out themselves with their responses to the questions. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a bill last year—which is currently under legal fire—that bans transgender female students from playing on women and girls’ sports teams.
In Palm Beach County, the school administration began re-examining the questions last year after parents expressed backlash that the questionnaire would be available to complete online and that the responses would be stored digitally via a third-party-software. The software company, Aktivate, is vulnerable to court subpoenas, which many parents worry could be a problem in post-Roe Florida, where abortion is severely restricted now and such medical records need stronger protection than ever.
The FHSAA Board of Directors is set to decide whether the menstrual history questions should remain optional or become mandatory at the upcoming board meeting this month from February 26 – 27 in Gainesville.
Do other states ask their female student-athletes about their menstrual history?
Texas school districts also ask female-athletes very similar questions about their menstrual history. In several school districts—including in Austin, Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth—the questions are mandatory to complete, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Many other states require student athletes to undergo a physical examination from a healthcare provider, but they generally only ask the provider to share a signature affirming that the athlete is in good health, rather than turn personal health history over to the school.
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