Florida Panel Recommends Forcing Student Athletes to Give Schools Their Menstrual History
The Florida High School Athletics Association said student athletes should be required to give detailed information about their periods when they register to play.
The Florida High School Athletics Association is standing by its decision to require student athletes to give their schools detailed information about their periods, an unprecedented policy that is raising major concerns about privacy.
The FHSAA announced in October that it was changing its annual physical form for student athletes to a digital version instead of paper. The form includes optional but detailed questions about students’ menstruation cycles, including when they got their first period, when they had their most recent one, and how many weeks pass between periods. Previously, only one page of the paper form—on which a pediatrician would sign off on a student being allowed to play—would be submitted to a school. But the entire digital form will now be submitted.
Despite widespread public outcry, an FHSAA panel not only decided Tuesday night to stand by that change but also recommended the menstrual history questions be made mandatory.
The recommendation now goes before the FHSAA board of directors, which will meet in late February to make the final decision.
While students’ medical history is necessary for doctors, it is entirely unclear why a school needs all of that information—or what it would plan to do with it.
“I don’t see why (school districts) need that access to that type of information,” said Dr. Michael Haller, a pediatric endocrinologist in Gainesville with two teenage children.
“It sure as hell will give me pause to fill it out with my kid,” he told The Palm Beach Post when the decision was first made in the fall.
Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, people have been hypervigilant about third parties tracking menstrual data. Period tracker apps and the platform that hosts Florida’s new digital athletics form are not owned by medical institutions and therefore are not subject to health privacy laws. If subpoenaed for someone’s data, particularly in a state where abortion has been made illegal, companies would be required to hand it over.
Florida has made it clear it is cracking down on the rights of women, girls, and gender minorities. The state has banned abortion after 15 weeks, forbidden transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams, and barred state residents from using Medicaid to pay for gender-affirming treatments.
Many parents and doctors are worried that schools will use the menstrual data to monitor students for late or missed periods, a possible sign of pregnancy, or to out transgender students by watching for girls who don’t get periods or boys who do.
School administrators say the information will stay private, but there’s no guarantee it will. It’s a terrifying glimpse of our dystopian post-Roe world.