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Florida School District Asks Female Athletes to Report Their Menstrual History

“It’s anti-choice and the anti-trans politics rolled into one."

A medical form for student athletes in Florida is causing an uproar among conservative and liberal parents alike.

The form implemented in Palm Beach County for the current school year asks students athletes to report their medical history -- including questioning the menstrual cycle of female athletes -- and stores information online with a third party.

This specific form has been used for about two decades, and asks students to report medical conditions such as allergies or seizure disorders. Parents have not taken issue with such questionings, as coaches say that their awareness of possible risks benefits the safety of students.

This year, however, the switch to storing such information online has many guardians concerned that their children's data will be sold to other third-parties, or worse, become available through subpoenas.

"I don’t see why [school districts need that access to that type of information," said Dr. Michael Haller, a pediatric endocrinologist located in Gainesville. "It sure as hell will give me pause to fill it out with my kid."

As per national practices, when students fill out medical clearance forms with their healthcare providers, only the last page is shared with schools -- the page containing no actual medical information, but the signature of the provider assuring the student is able to participate. Per the new policy in Palm Beach County requiring the forms be uploaded online, the entire form must be included, medical history and all.

While all records were subject to subpoenas previously, the tracking of medical history online can make sensitive information especially vulnerable in the shifting political landscape of the state.

Florida has been heavily scrutinized recently for legislation banning the teaching or discussion of LGBTQ+ identities in classrooms through the colloquially named "Don't Say Gay" bill. The state has also banned transgender athletes from participating in school sports.

Alongside human rights violations of the LGBTQ+ community, Florida is also one of the many states to pass abortion restrictions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, with the procedure completely banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

While medical forms asking about the menstrual cycles of athletes is not unusual, bodily-autonomy advocates worry that sensitive information may be used against students, especially in an age of rampant digital surveillance.

Joan Waitkevicz, President of the Palm Beach County Democratic Women’s Club, told The Florida Times-Union: “There’s been a lot of discussion, even at the level of the White House, about how individuals’ menstrual history should not be widely shared because it could be used to target them in the case of state regulations on abortions."

The student athlete form features five optional questions about pupil's menstrual cycles, which read as following:

  1. When was your first menstrual period?
  2. When was your most recent menstrual period?
  3. How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to
    the start of another?
  4. How many periods have you had in the last year?
  5. What was the longest time between periods in the last year?
Like Waitkevicz, many parents and students alike are concerned that documentation on their cycles could be used against them. In the case of transgender students, these questions could completely prevent them from participating in school athletics.

"If they’re forcing the issue then I would call it anti-trans," Haller said. "That’s probably the better question: Why do they have the questions in the first place?"

A statement from the Palm Beach County School District ensured that student information would remain protected, and the third-party data storage platform, Aktivate, also assured that they are HIPPA and FERPA compliant. Despite this, all medical forms in their entirety will be available for any coach to view, making it increasingly effortless to exclude transgender students.

Waitkevicz continued: “It’s anti-choice and the anti-trans politics rolled into one."

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