The Florida High School Athletic Association’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee is standing by its requirement that high-school athletes submit information about their periods before they can play a sport, the Palm Beach Post reports.
In October, the FHSAA recommended that Florida begin using a digital, national sports-registration form that makes it mandatory for students to answer detailed, private questions about their menstrual health, including when they got their first period and how much time typically passes between periods.
The decision was met with backlash from parents and medical professionals who say that such information — which is effectively the reproductive-health data of adolescents — is private and does not need to be collected by schools, especially at a time when abortion access and transgender rights are under attack and many Americans fear that their health information could be used against them. “I don’t see why (school districts) need that access to that type of information,” Dr. Michael Haller, a pediatric endocrinologist based in Gainesville, told the Post in October. “It sure as hell will give me pause to fill it out with my kid.”
For at least two decades, high-school athletes in Florida have had to turn in a registration form with a physician’s signature clearing them to play. But questions about menstrual health and history on that form have been optional. They have also notably been on a physical, printed form.
The national form the FHSAA wants to adopt, which is already used by about a dozen other states, explicitly says that the part of the document detailing athletes’ medical histories, including their menstrual history, should not be turned into schools and should instead be kept in private with a physician. According to the Post, ten states — California, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin — explicitly tell athletes not to give their medical history to their schools. However, the FHSAA wants athletes to turn over the entire form to their schools, arguing that the health information could be useful to coaches if a student athlete is injured and needs urgent care. The digital form would also be kept by a third-party software company, Aktivate, which is not run by a medical-care provider and therefore isn’t bound to or protected by HIPAA laws.
On the heels of Florida’s 15-week abortion ban, some parents and activists have raised concerns about potential legal repercussions for students suspected of having abortions. (The state also requires anyone under 18 who gets an abortion to have permission from a parent or legal guardian.) At least one Florida school district has asked the FHSAA to remove the five questions, NBC reports. The FHSAA’s board of directors will make a final decision in late February in Gainesville.