The board of directors of Florida’s High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) held an emergency meeting on Thursday after receiving backlash about a drafted pre-participation examination form, which proposed mandatory menstrual information for student athlete participation. Board members voted 14-2 to approve the motion to accept the new pre-participation examination form.
“From issues with this ruling teaching children they have no control over their own bodies, to ostracizing students, to plain old privacy issues, this is unacceptable,” Florida resident Robyn Davis said in her public comment. “The members of the board know this is unacceptable and need to take this harassment measure off the table permanently.”
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The draft form recommendations were made last month and since then, advocates and lawmakers—including Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D – Broward)—have condemned the proposal. FHSAA Executive Director Craig Damon submitted and endorsed a proposal, and recommended adopting the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s (SMAC) proposed form with the exception of removing questions 30-33. Those questions include how old one was when they had their first menstrual period, when one’s most recent menstrual period was, and how many periods one has had in the past 12 months.
“I have heard about the desire of adults in Florida to understand the fertility status of young women athletes,” Annie Lilje said in her public comment. “This is a great idea. However it’s also very important we also know when a young male athlete masterbates concluding with ejaculation. We want to make sure that our students are healthy—both male and female.”
According to FHSAA, the qualified healthcare practitioner performing the examination, as well as parents or guardians of the student athlete, will retain medical history and examination forms from pages one to three. FHSAA says only the fourth page of the medical eligibility form will be submitted to the student’s school.
Pages one to three include questions on student mental health; current and previous medical conditions; allergies; cardiovascular-related questions; family history; weight; and alcohol and tobacco use; among others. Page four, which would remain with the schools, includes student information and emergency contacts; information regarding medical eligibility including restrictions or accommodations; medications; and relevant medical history such as allergies, concussions, and surgical histories.
“The concerns of student-athletes, parents, SMAC, and other stakeholders have been carefully and respectfully heard,” stated FHSAA. “The FHSAA shares in the concern and belief that our student-athletes deserve privacy through their health, safety, and well-being.
This change addresses concerns of students and parents’ disapproval of the sharing of a female’s menstrual cycle, as well as medical information being viewed by non-healthcare providers at FHSAA member schools, while ensuring that the on-site healthcare provider can provide necessary care for our student athletes as suggested by SMAC.”