TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It was a big win for student privacy on Thursday when the Florida High School Athletic Association board of governors voted to remove questions related to a female athlete's period from physical evaluation forms.
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Getting to this step has been brewing for months. In fact, student medical information and privacy came into the spotlight earlier this school year.
Palm Beach County School Board members even voiced their concerns with a series of optional questions on student-athlete medical forms that ask about a girl's period and its regularity.
Several back-and-forth discussions about whether those questions were necessary lead to Thursday's emergency meeting of the FHSAA board of governors.
A medical committee had recommended the FHSAA actually make those menstrual questions mandatory.
But after listening to comments from the community, the board of governors on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to remove the questions related to a student's menstrual cycle from the form completely.
Another change is that families will only be required to turn in the final page of the form, which says whether the child is medically eligible to compete in sports and must be signed by a health care professional.
Even some board members agreed that they didn't like those personal questions.
"As a father of three daughters who all played middle school sports and high school and completed the pre-participation physical every year, I really understand the concern with making these questions mandatory," FHSAA board member Doug Dodd said. "Our family felt those questions were private and we chose not to answer those optional questions."
Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D- Plantation, released the following statement about the FHSAA's decision:
"I want to thank FHSAA leadership for having the wisdom and fortitude to reject the bizarre, outrageous, and inappropriate recommendation regarding mandated period tracking for female athletes — and for not only soliciting but actually listening to public testimony. Tantamount to puberty policing, the FHSAA has agreed that there is absolutely no reason to mandate a student’s private, confidential reproductive health information be reported to anyone but their doctor or their parents — especially when such rules would apply to girls and young women. We must protect school sports which so greatly enrich students’ lives and prevent these settings from becoming politicized at all costs, for the sake of millions of young people across our state."
Now to be clear, the menstrual questions were not new. They were part of the physical evaluation form for more than 20 years, but sparked controversy recently in light of the debate over transgender athletes and reproductive rights.
Under the new forms approved by the FHSAA board of governors on Thursday, student-athletes will now have to list their "Sex Assigned At Birth," which will then get submitted to the student's school.