Florida won’t ask girl athletes about menstrual cycles

February 23, 2023 / Athletic Administration
The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Board of Directors rejected a proposal this month that would have required high school girls to answer quetions about their menstrual cycles in order to play school sports.

Previously the questions had been optional to answer, but there was a recent push to make it mandatory — which received pushback from the public.

floridaA recent story from The Conversation detailed Florida’s decision to no longer inquire about female athletes’ menstrual cycles and why that is invasive.

Below is an excerpt from The Conversation story.

The four questions were: Have you had a menstrual cycle? 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?

The answers, along with the rest of students’ medical history, would have been entered into an online platform and stored on a third-party database called AktivateSchool personnel would have had access to this information.

While Florida decided to scrap the questions from their student forms, many states currently ask similar questions of their female athletes prior to participation in their sport.

As researchers who are experts in Title IX, sports and health care equity, and constitutional law, we have identified a few reasons why schools and states tracking female athletes’ menstrual history may conflict with federal laws.

It may violate federal anti-discrimination law

Title IX, a federal policy passed in 1972, prohibits federally funded schools from discriminating against students based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The policy aims to end sex discrimination, sex-based harassment, and sexual violence in education.

While Title IX applies to all school settings, it is often most associated with athletics.

Requiring female student-athletes to submit menstrual cycle data to their schools could be a form of sex discrimination and therefore violate Title IX. It is potentially discriminatory because girls are the only students at risk of being denied the opportunity to play sports if they choose not to provide schools with details about their menstrual cycles.

It threatens constitutional rights

Tracking female athletes’ menstrual history may be downright unconstitutional.

Forcing only females to disclose private medical information may violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits sex-based discrimination.

Also, 11 states have a “right to privacy” written into their state constitutions. For example, the Florida Constitution states that “all natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights,” including “the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life.”

While other states do not explicitly provide a right to privacy in their constitutions, legal precedent has determined that this right is implicit in the U.S. Constitution.

To read the full story from The Conversation, click here.