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An advisory committee for the Florida High School Athletic Association recommended that student-athletes be required to submit information about their periods to their schools. The questions have been included on athletics forms since the early 2000s but are optional.
The committee's recommendation has not been implemented. The association’s board of directors is scheduled to vote on it in late February.
The proposal has prompted privacy concerns from parents, physicians and abortion- rights advocates. But some sports doctors say the information can help identify disorders that put athletes at greater risk for injury.
UPDATE 2/9: Public outcry over menstrual questions on athletics forms prompted the Florida High School Athletic Association to call an emergency board meeting on Feb. 9 to consider removing the questions. After listening to public comment, the board of directors voted 14-2 in favor of adopting the physical evaluation form without the questions on menstruation.
News about a recent recommendation in Florida that would require student-athletes to share detailed information about their menstrual cycles with their schools has prompted a lot of online chatter, and claims that go a step too far in describing the situation.
"Female student athletes in Florida need to provide their schools with detailed information about their periods," read one viral Jan. 25 tweet by Jessica Valenti, an abortion rights activist. "Despite public outcry, the Florida High School Athletics Association is standing by its decision that girls submit menstruation info to schools: including age of their first period, how many days are typically in between their periods, and the date of their most recent period."
An advisory committee of the Florida High School Athletic Association recently recommended that student athletes be required to submit information about their periods to their schools. The questions have been included on athletics forms since the early 2000s, but are marked as optional.
The recommendation has not been implemented. The association’s board of directors is scheduled to vote on it during meetings on Feb. 26 and 27 in Gainesville.
On the same day the tweet was shared, the association’s sports medicine advisory committee upheld its Jan. 17 recommendation to require female athletes to submit menstrual details when registering to play. A motion to rescind it failed on a 5-5 vote. (A majority vote would have been required for the motion to pass.)
Until the board of directors votes in February on the recommendation, submitting menstrual information remains optional in Florida.
All Florida student-athletes are required to answer medical questions and get a doctor’s clearance to participate in school-sponsored sports. Required forms for female athletes include questions about their menstrual history, including when they got their first period, how many weeks typically pass between periods, and when they had their last one.
Physicians review the forms, which have usually been on paper, and turn them in to school athletic directors. Again, as of now, the questions about menstrual cycles are marked as optional.
Critics were concerned that, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, students’ medical information could be used in criminal prosecutions. Others argued that making the questions mandatory was part of the state’s attempt to roll back transgender rights.
The Palm Beach Post found that a national form — developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and used by more than a dozen other states — had more privacy protections than the Florida one. The biggest difference is who has access to the information. The national form explicitly states that the portion about athletes' medical histories — including their menstrual history — should not be given to schools and should instead be kept with their physicians.
Florida diverges from this guidance by requiring that all answers be submitted to school officials. Craig Damon, executive director of the state’s high school athletic association, told the Post this allows schools to "‘provide any necessary medical information’ to a health care worker who is helping a sick or injured student."
The Post investigation found that athletic associations in 40 states and the District of Columbia require student athletes to submit all pages of their forms to their schools. Of those, 34 states include detailed questions about menstrual history. The Post reported that 10 states, including Democratic-leaning California and Republican-leaning North Dakota, specifically instruct athletes not to turn in medical history information to their schools.
Some physicians say the information is important and could help identify disorders that put athletes at greater risk for injury, but doctors disagree about with whom it should be shared.
Dr. Thresia Gambon, a Miami-Dade pediatrician and president of Florida’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the Miami Herald that although menstrual history can help doctors evaluate a student athlete’s health, that information, along with other medical questions on the form, should be kept confidential between the student and their health care provider.
A Twitter post claims that female student athletes in Florida "need to provide their schools with detailed information about their periods."
This lacks important context. A state committee has recommended that students submit the information, but the proposal has not been voted on or implemented. The Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors will consider the proposal at the end of February.
The questions about menstrual history are already included on required forms but are marked optional.
The statement is partially accurate. Female athletes are already being asked these questions, and a proposal is on the table to make answering them mandatory. But the claim omits that the requirement hasn’t been implemented and that the questions, although currently optional, aren’t new.
We rate it Half True.
Twitter post, Jan. 25
Twitter thread by Kati Kokal, Feb. 2, 2023
Palm Beach Post, Florida asks student athletes about their periods. Why some find it 'shocking' post-Roe, Oct. 4, 2022
Palm Beach Post, FHSAA committee calls special meeting on student athlete menstrual questions, Jan. 20, 2023
Palm Beach Post, Will Florida athletes have to report their menstrual history to play? Here's the latest, Jan. 25, 2023
American Academy of Pediatrics, PREPARTICIPATION PHYSICAL EVALUATION, Accessed Feb. 3, 2023
Florida High School Athletic Association, Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, Accessed Feb. 3, 2023
Miami Herald, Florida athletes may soon be required to submit their menstrual history to schools, Feb. 3, 2023
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