Florida proposes mandatory menstruation questions for athletic participation
The Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of Florida’s High School Athletics Association (FHSAA) drafted a new physical evaluation form last month that would make menstruation questions mandatory for high school athletes. Public concerns include transgender athletes being banned from participation in sports, and the in-depth tracking of menstruation during a time when states are cracking down on abortion access.
“Once again, Governor Ron DeSantis and once-independent bodies in our state are advancing an agenda of government surveillance and intrusion into people’s lives,” Press Secretary of Equality Florida Brandon Wolf said. “At his behest, the Florida legislature already took aim at transgender students playing sports with their friends, making it impossible for them to play on teams that reflect their gender identity. Mandating the sharing of this incredibly personal data from young people with the state will only cause families to further question whether or not sports teams in Florida schools are safe to participate on.”
The advisory committee made the recommendation late last month, as first reported by The Palm Beach Post. This preparticipation medical evaluation must be completed each year before students can participate in interscholastic athletic competitions, or any tryouts, practices, workouts, conditioning, or other physical activity.
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Twitter user Grandma Vickie, who alleges to be a retired educator and grandmother of three, voiced her opinions.
Requiring girls to give Menstruation information is an invasion to every girls privacy! What right does an athletics department have to private information? This is so wrong. I am grateful we do not live in Florida.
— Grandma Vickie (@VickieW47132882) January 27, 2023
The committee also recommends that all pages of the form be handed over to schools, under the argument that school staff need all information on athletes, including menstruation information, in case of a medical emergency.
The draft of the physical evaluation form consists of typical questions, such as emergency contact information, family healthcare provider, medicines and supplements, and allergies. While the form includes a question about sex assigned at birth, it does not offer a question about gender identity.
Questions on Florida’s draft evaluation form include:
- “Have you ever had a menstrual period?”
- “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?”
The current version of the form asks about one’s sex and doesn’t specifically state sex assigned at birth. It also contains questions such as when was one’s first menstrual period; when was one’s most recent menstrual period; how much time does one usually have from the start of one period to the start of another; how many periods has one had in the last year, and what was the longest time between periods in the last year. These questions are currently optional for student athletes.
Abortion writer and advocate, Jessica Valenti, took to Twitter to express her views on the subject.
Female student athletes in Florida need to provide their schools with detailed information about their periodshttps://t.co/nFJcrnxSJA
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 26, 2023
While Georgia and New York City have athletic pre evaluation forms that include mandatory menstruation questions, New York City’s is less invasive. Menstrual questions on New York City’s athletic pre evaluation form includes:
- “Have you ever had a menstrual period?”
- “Have you had any problems with your periods (severe cramps, heavy bleeding)?”
- “When was your last period?”
- “What is the frequency of your periods?”
These questions could raise concerns about how students’ menstrual information can be used to prosecute if a pregnancy is terminated. Last April, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 5, an anti-abortion measure, into law, which bans abortion procedures after 15 weeks of pregnancy without exemptions for cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking.
“Families and students have every right to be concerned about how the data they are being forced to share with the DeSantis Administration may later be weaponized against them,” Wolf said. “This is a governor who repeatedly assaults privacy and freedom, telling Floridians that he, not parents, knows best.”
In Florida, exemptions may be made for abortions if the procedure involves saving a pregnant woman’s life, or to prevent a serious risk of irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, which must be certified by two physicians in writing, or one physician in the case of an emergency and if a second physician is unavailable. Another exemption includes two physicians certifying in writing that the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality, which makes the fetus incompatible with life outside the womb, and will result in death upon birth or shortly thereafter.
FHSAA’s Board of Directors will meet from February 26th-27th for a final decision. Until then, the menstrual questionnaire is not yet a state requirement.
“Student athletes in Florida deserve teams and agencies dedicated to helping them thrive and giving them opportunities to succeed on the highest levels,” Wolf said. “Our mission to fight back against the governor’s intrusive assaults on privacy and freedom to fuel his presidential ambitions will continue in defense of students and their families.”
State of Reform reached out to FHSAA for comment and received no response at the time of publication.