Yuma Sun

Fla. backs off high school athlete menstrual data, but debate lingers


Florida has backed off its effort to force athletes to give their high schools informatio­n about their menstrual cycles after the debate sparked opposition nationwide, and now, the state is facing questions about whether the plan was based on politics or policy.

Doctors often ask students about their periods to figure out whether they are healthy enough to compete. But the issue exploded when the Florida High School Athletic Associatio­n proposed using a form that called for providing that informatio­n directly to schools, rather than just to health providers.

Critics questioned whether there were political motives as Republican Florida Gov. Ron Desantis weighs a run for the presidency. Opposition to abortion and transgende­r female athletes are core GOP tenants, and Desantis has signed bills on both issues.

Amid the backlash, the associatio­n voted Thursday to recommend that most personal informatio­n revealed on medical history forms stay at the doctor’s office and not be stored at school. The new form, though, was changed to ask athletes their sex assigned at birth, rather than just their sex.

Here is a guide on the conflict, what experts have to say about it and the lack of data on what other states have been asking families to share.


The proposed revisions to the form included four mandatory questions about menstruati­on: if the student has ever had a period, the age they had their first period, the date of their most recent period and how many periods they’ve had in the past year.

An earlier version had asked questions about periods, too, but answering them was optional.


Anger erupted over the proposal, with Democratic state lawmakers sending a letter calling the requiremen­t “highly invasive” and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten decrying it as “dystopian” in a tweet.

Hundreds also went online to sign a Change.org petition called, “Privacy. Period!” Petition writer Jenn Meale Poggie said her 16-year-old, soccer-playing daughter was moved almost to the point of tears when she heard about the proposal.

“That,” Poggie said, “is how profound these young girls are emotionall­y affected by this type of policy.”

Questions about transgende­r athletes and abortion added to the debate.

“If this is being used to screen for risk for abortion or transgende­r, it’s a really misguided screen,” said Dr. Judith

in Old Town Scottsdale, which has been seeing a high volume of visitors in town for the big game and the Phoenix Open. Ten dancers were performing in front of the Native Art Market on Main Street. ESPN was filming the group in the store and then had them pose outside by a Super Bowl sign.

That’s when Ortega started yelling at them, Blackbird said. In the video, Ortega can be seen mocking them and yelling “you (expletive) Indians”

at one point.

His shop was closed Friday, and a listed number appears to not be in a service. There was no immediate response to messages from The Associated Press left at multiple phone numbers and personal email addresses listed for him seeking comment.

In Arizona, there is no law specific to a hate crime itself. It can be used as an aggravatin­g circumstan­ce in the commission of a crime where the motive was bias against a victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientatio­n or disability. Disorderly conduct does not qualify for a hate crime designatio­n under the FBI’S definition, according to Scottsdale authoritie­s. The FBI website describes a hate crime as “often a violent crime, such as assault, murder, arson, vandalism, or threats to commit such crimes.”

Blackbird, who is of Eastern Band Cherokee and Dakota descent, said some Navajo performers heard Ortega make threats in their language that had violent and sexual innuendos. He also alleges Ortega charged at them and had to be physically restrained. He said he doesn’t see why it’s not being treated as a hate crime.

“That’s what it’s seeming like, which really creates some horrible precedents, dangerous precedents,” said Blackbird, who has retained an attorney.

Meanwhile, the video has gained traction on social media and brought unwanted attention to Scottsdale. Mayor David Ortega, who is not related to the gallery owner, called his behavior “reprehensi­ble and inexcusabl­e.”

“The behavior exhibited by this individual saddens and disgusts the people of our community,” David Ortega said in a statement.

The business is associated with a larger group of stores known for selling Native American items in the Southwest. But Ortega’s on the Plaza, located in New Mexico, said Gilbert Ortega Jr. is a distant relative and the Santa Fe store is not affiliated with him.

“The family and employees of Ortega’s on the Plaza in Santa Fe condemn racism and discrimina­tion in all forms,” Janelle Ortega said in a statement Thursday. “Furthermor­e, we consider it a great honor to carry and showcase the work of Indigenous artists and a privilege to support them in other important public and personal endeavors.”

Blackbird said there are growing calls on social media for artists to boycott Gilbert Ortega Jr.’s business. He said racism exists even among people whose business hinges on Indigenous people.

“That’s always been a thing in the Indian trader world,” Blackbird said. “They don’t care about the people that are making the items they’re selling and redesignin­g.”

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