Female School Athletes Will No Longer Provide Menstrual History Data in Florida

Following public outrage over personal questions on menstrual history which female school athletes are required to provide in Florida, the state has decided to such questions from its medical forms. Lawmakers recently voted to have the questions removed on the grounds that they were “macabre” and infringe on the “privacy and medical autonomy” of students.

Although the questions were optional for female students, activists now said they must be scrapped from annual medical forms altogether. Here are the questions as they appear on the forms:

· When was your first menstrual period?
· When was your most recent menstrual period?
· How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to the start of another?
· How many periods have you had in the last year?
· What was the longest time between periods in the last year?

One lawmaker, Ilhan Omar, stated that the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) had no right to include such questions in students’ forms. She said the questions are “simply dystopian, immoral, and a violation of our basic rights” as women. Another lawmaker, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, said “tracking a person’s menstrual cycle (in order to be allowed to play on athletic fields and courts) is an unconscionable violation of a person’s constitutionally protected right to privacy.”

While the annual medical sports form also included questions about a female student’s heart condition, medical concerns, and dietary requirements, lawmakers and human rights activists contend that personal questions about their menstruation should never be for public consumption, bearing in mind that non-medical employees can access the forms.

“These new reporting requirements would be highly invasive, and no girl should be forced to disclose her bodily functions to someone who is not her mother, father, caretaker, or physician,” lawmakers wrote to the FHSAA on February 7. “There is absolutely no reason for the FHSAA to collect such private information and no reason why the schools need it.”

Some activists connected the menstrual history question on student medical sports forms to a recent law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis which prohibits transgender girls and women from taking part in female sports in Florida’s public schools and colleges. They described the requirement as invasive and even an attempt to identify and prosecute women who seek abortions in the state. It will be noted that DeSantis desires to prohibit abortions after 6 weeks, even though the state law only prohibits for after 15 weeks.

“This governor and his office had nothing to do with any of this,” said John Gerdes, president of the FHSAA board. “We felt no pressure from them, (and) they did not contact us.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics confirmed that questions about menstrual cycles are important as an indication of health for young females going into sports, but that such information should not be shared with or held by schools.