Critics question whether the proposal is a thinly veiled attempt to restrict trans and reproductive rights
Florida school districts are facing nationwide backlash for calling on students to supply records of their menstrual cycle, if they want to compete in their chosen sport.
The state has for the past 20 years called on students to disclose data relating to their health, with questions around menstrual history having been optional. The move to digitise the data collected and a new move to make responses to menstruation questions mandatory has raised concern about student privacy.
What is being asked?
The majority of questions on the form ask about the athlete’s cardiac health, medications and history of injury. The intrusive menstruation questions, which were previously optional to answer, include:
- Have you had a menstrual period?
- If so, how old were you when you had your first menstrual period?
- When was your most recent menstrual period?
- How many periods have you had in the past 12 months?
Clearly this could be problematic for Transgender students who may effectively be forced to 'out' themselves.
Critics of the policy say the proposed change could also put reproductive rights at risk. Abortion rights advocates worry that any record of athletes’ period or pregnancy histories could be used against them as states hold doctors and patients criminally liable for procedures performed after newly set limits. In Florida, abortion is banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The issue is not that this information is being collected, more that if requires the information to be shared with school officials, not just the individual's physician.
Many states (including Florida) have for the past 20+ years required students to complete a form detailing undergo a physical examination from a healthcare provider, as it is widely accepted as important to ensure that high school athletes are in good health.
If the change is enforced, the information will be collected through Aktivate, a privately owned software company who claim that the data collected is secure. However, critics are 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.
The move has yet to be implemented, with Florida High School Athletics Association's board of directors scheduled to vote on the decision in late February. Watch this space for further updates.
What's your view on whether high school athletes should be obliged to divulge any personal medical history? Is the move to make menstrual history data mandatory too intrusive? Should each individual be able to make their choice? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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