HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The State of Florida is considering a change that would force teenage girls who play high school sports to tell school officials about their menstrual cycles.
The governor’s education commissioner sits on the board of the association that governs athletics in public schools, which will be weighing the decision.
Dr. Tommy Schechtman is a pediatrician and past president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy Of Pediatrics
“Keeping into context of medicine, you have to say, why do we need to be doing this?” he said.
Schechtman is talking about a proposed change to Florida’s PPE, or pre-participation physical evaluation form, that a Palm Beach Post investigation uncovered would mandate high school girls statewide answer medical questions about their menstrual cycles
Currently, answering them is optional.
The proposed change would force teenage student athletes to share their private medical information to their schools.
“None of this, in my view, is important for the athletic department, for the coach, or the school, principal or the state organization to have this information,” said Schechtman.
A physical examination for student athletes is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“We do need to make sure our student athletes are in good shape so clearly they need to have this pre-participation evaluation,” said Schechtman.
The national form states, in bold letters, “This form should be placed into the athlete’s medical file and should not be shared with schools or sports organizations.”
“It is important to be able to speak to your physician who is providing the medical clearance,” said Schechtman. “Certainly menstrual cycles can reflect other issues going on, but clearly that is something to be discussed between the patient, parent and the physician.”
Per state statute, the Florida High School Athletic Association is the “governing nonprofit organization of athletics in Florida public schools.”
Of the 16 board members, just two are women.
One seat is given to the state’s education commissioner, and his office, per the statute, appoints three others on the board.
“It is not in the spirit of which HIPPA was implemented, I don’t think it meets that threshold,” said Schechtman.
Schechtman also wonders if the proposed change could be at friction with federal medical privacy laws.
“At the very least, it breaks the trust relationship with the physician and athlete/patient and goes beyond what HIPPA would normally allow,” he said.
Who at the association is eager to view the state’s teenage female athletes’ menstrual history and why remains unknown.
No one from the association has responded to Local 10 News’ request for an interview.
STATEMENT FROM FHSAA
“The Sports Medicine Advisory Committee meets regularly to review FHSAA health and safety policies and make recommendations to the FHSAA Board of Directors. Recommendations made by any FHSAA advisory committee are not considered final as all policy changes must go before the FHSAA Board of Directors for final approval. The FHSAA’s next Board of Directors meeting will take place on February 26th-27th. The Preparticipation Physical Evaluation Form will be on the agenda as an action item and will include recommendations from the FHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, the FHSAA Executive Director, as well as the FHSAA Board of Directors. During the Board’s consideration, there will likely be discussion related to mandatory vs. optional requirements of menstrual questions and whether Preparticipation Physical Evaluation Forms should be retained by the healthcare provider and/or parents with only a medical eligibility clearance form being submitted to the school.”