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Florida students may be forced to prove they can menstruate before playing sports. Yes, really

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Athletes running a race

Student athletes in Florida could be forced to turn in information about their menstrual history after an athletics association’s medical panel doubled down on its recommendation. 

The Florida High School Athletics Association’s (FHSAA) sports medicine advisory committee has stood by its recommendation to require high school athletes to submit information about their periods for each year they register to participate. 

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The move comes after a suggestion that the association’s board adopt a national sports registration form – which makes menstrual information mandatory. 

Questions listed on the form include asking if players have had a period, when they first got their period, the date of their most recent one was and the regularity of their cycle during the previous 12 months. 

Notably, the main difference between the national form and Florida’s system, as the Palm Beach Post reports, is where the information is stored. 

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The national form states that the part detailing athletes’ medical history – including their menstrual history – should not be turned into schools but remain with their physician. 

However, the FHSAA’s sports medicine committee recommended that all pages of the form be handed over to their schools.

The committee argues that school staff need all the information they can get on their athletes, in case of a medical emergency.

The committee’s recommendation now goes to the FHSAA’s board of directors, which is due to meet at the end of next month.

The questions and the recommendation about where the information will go has come under fire from parents, medical professionals and abortion rights campaigners in recent weeks and months. 

Their concerns come amid shifts in access to abortions, the moral panic over transgender athletes and the risks posed by the digital age. 

PinkNews has widely covered the attacks on trans athletes in US schools, with some states barring transgender pupils‘ participation altogether.

Trans Olympian Caitlyn Jenner even doubled down on her opposition to trans women taking part, stating that “we have to protect women’s sports”.

Worries have also been aired that students’ menstrual information could be used to prosecute them if they terminate a pregnancy. 

In April 2022, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed into law an anti-abortion measure which bans the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy – without exemptions for rape, incest or human trafficking.

Such information could thus be used by courts to convict students if they have an abortion after the 15-week limit.

Parents have also spoken out against the risk of children’s medical information being leaked or stolen in the event of a data breach. 

As the Palm Beach Post reported, huge swathes of student athletes’ registration forms have already been moved online and are stored by a third party.

Dr. Michael Haller, a paediatric endocrinologist based in Florida city of Gainesville, said: “I don’t see why [school districts] need access to that type of information. It sure as hell will give me pause to fill it out with my kid.”

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