Florida high school sports officials reconsider menstrual questions
ORLANDO, Fla. - Facing blowback, the director of Florida’s high school sports governing body is backing away from using an eligibility form that requires female athletes to disclose their menstrual history in order to compete.
Instead, the executive director of the Florida High School Athletic Association is recommending that most personal information revealed on medical history forms stay at the doctor’s office and not be stored at school.
The association’s board has an emergency meeting Thursday to vote on whether to adopt the four-page form — which would remove questions that force student-athletes to share details about their menstruation cycles in order to be participate in sports.
Under the new recommendation, answers to additional questions about mental health, alcohol and drug use, and family health history would stay in the offices of the health care practitioner who conducted the medical screening.
An earlier version of the form, which had mandatory questions about students’ menstrual histories, had been recommended by an advisory committee of the association. It "created concerns and questions from parents, school district administrators, school board members and coaches regarding the health privacy of student-athletes," according to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.
"Therefore, this recommendation provides pertinent medical history to the qualified health care practitioner and gives schools the medical authorization necessary for allowing athletic participation, while the protecting the privacy of the student-athlete," the agenda item said.
Thursday’s meeting was being held after a group of Democratic state lawmakers sent a letter this week to John Gerdes, the association’s president, calling the reporting requirements in the earlier proposed form "highly invasive." The letter said, "no girl should be forced to disclose her bodily functions to someone who is not her mother, father, caretaker, or physician."
The state lawmakers said they were concerned that, if the schools had the information, a coach or athletic director would be able to get access to it. With the current form, such questions are optional, not mandatory; in the revised form under consideration, they would be scrapped.
"There is absolutely no reason for FHSAA to collect such private information and no reason why the schools need it," the lawmakers said in the letter.
If approved, the updated forms will be used starting in June of this year. The public can attend the virtual meeting at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 9 on the FHSAA's YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/@fhsaavideos/streams.
Members of the public can submit questions or comments about the proposal to email@example.com for board members to consider. To view the full agenda, click here.