Lodi News-Sentinel

Sports board removes menstrual questions for Florida athletes

- Sommer Brugal

MIAMI — The Florida High School Athletic Associatio­n on Thursday walked back a controvers­ial proposal to require female high school athletes to disclose informatio­n regarding their menstrual history, following scathing criticism from students, parents, physicians, advocacy organizati­ons and some lawmakers.

The FHSAA Board of Directors voted 14-2 during an emergency meeting to instead require students to submit just one page to schools to indicate if they are healthy enough to compete, or only able to participat­e partially, with their doctor signing off. Board members Chris Patricca and Charlie Ward cast the two dissenting votes. The menstrual questions will be removed from the form.

The one-page physical evaluation form, recommende­d by the associatio­n’s Executive Director Craig Damon earlier this week, omits specific details about a player’s menstrual cycle. Damon’s recommenda­tion was announced on the same day that 30 Florida legislator­s called on the FHSAA to rescind its proposal that would include informatio­n about student athletes’ menstrual periods.

The FHSAA governs all high school sports in Florida, both at public and private schools. Its 16-member board is made up of 14 men and 2 women. Florida’s education commission­er, handpicked by Gov. Ron DeSantis, sits on the board and appoints three members. The other 12 are elected from schools and include school athletic directors.

Member Doug Dodd, a father of three daughters, said he had “a real problem” with mandating the menstrual questions, and as a school board member in Citrus County, he said he didn’t believe the informatio­n needed to be shared with schools.

Patricca, a school board member in Lee County, said she did not support the removal of the questions, arguing student athletes are “safer and better protected” by their inclusion. However, she agreed the informatio­n should be kept between the student, family and medical provider.

The board listened to emails from more than 150 people during the public comment period, the overwhelmi­ng majority of them deriding the board for its initial proposal. The majority urged the board to adopt the recommenda­tion to omit questions related to a student’s menstruati­on. Most speakers said the informatio­n should be kept between the parents, student and medical profession­al — and not the schools.

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