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Florida High School Athletic Association votes to scrap questions about student athletes' menstrual history

Prior considerations were being discussed to make the questions mandatory for students to answer.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida High School Athletic Association voted to remove questions about a student's menstrual history in its preparticipation physical evaluation form. 

The vote took place during an emergency meeting streamed on its YouTube page after the executive director made a recommendation to scrap the questions in the form due to concerns brought up about privacy. 

The board voted 14 to 2 to approve the recommendation, with changes set to take place immediately, an FHSAA spokesperson said.

The two members rejecting the vote said they could not support it out of concerns that a provider may miss concerns about a girl's menstrual cycles if the questions aren't asked.

During the meeting, at least 150 comments were submitted and read prior to the vote with the majority referring to mandatory questioning as an invasion of privacy. 

"This recommendation provides pertinent medical history to the qualified health care practitioner and gives schools the medical authorization necessary for allowing athletic participation while protecting the privacy of the student-athlete," the executive director wrote in the recommendation.

Questions about whether this should be mandated originated from the sports medicine advisory committee.

The FHSAA faced scrutiny with some parents calling it an invasion of privacy. Others also criticized the board of directors make up for such a decision. 

The board is made up of 14 men and two women.

While doctors 10 Tampa Bay spoke with agree medical clearance forms are necessary, mandatory reporting of one's menstrual history is not. 

The recommendations from several institutions did not necessarily entail that the entire medical history is kept at the school, Dr. Thresia Gambon, president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said. Rather, it remains with the provider.

A group of Democratic state lawmakers sent a letter this week to John Gerdes, the association's president, calling the reporting requirements in the earlier proposed form “highly invasive." 

The letter said, “no girl should be forced to disclose her bodily functions to someone who is not her mother, father, caretaker, or physician."

The state lawmakers said they were concerned that, if the schools had the information, a coach or athletic director would be able to get access to it. With the current form, such questions are optional, not mandatory; in the revised form under consideration, they would be scrapped.

“There is absolutely no reason for FHSAA to collect such private information and no reason why the schools need it," the lawmakers said in the letter.

Jenn Meale Poggie who started the "Privacy. Period!" petition, which has garnered at least 563 signatures, wrote in part: “I commend the Florida High School Athletic Association Board of Directors for the action they took today."

In the updated form, students must also be required to answer and report their sex assigned at birth to schools. 

Some critics argue the controversy targets transgender student-athletes. 

Previously, a spokesperson for FHSAA denied the claim. Board members did not address that change during the emergency meeting. That change in the form aligns with the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, a spokesperson later stated. 

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