Florida student athletes required to identify gender assigned at birth
An empty locker room. (Courtesy of flickr.)

Florida student athletes required to identify gender assigned at birth

The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has been fighting controversy in recent weeks after discussing the possibility of requiring student athletes to answer questions about their menstrual history on the state-wide pre-participation physical evaluation form. The form has included questions about menstrual history since it was last updated in 2016, but those questions have remained optional for years. Following significant community backlash that included the voices of parents and doctors, the FHSAA has decided that it will not be mandatory for athletes to disclose information about menstrual history. Following this change, the new form will instead ask students for their sex assigned at birth

This pre-participation form is necessary to know medical, surgical and emotional histories in potential student athletes that need clearance to play. It is important to note that the pages surrounding the medical, surgical and emotional are kept by the parent, guardian or health care provider—the school does not keep these documents. One page in the form concerning the student’s medical eligibility to play sports includes the question regarding the student’s sex assigned at birth. This document is completed by the student, parent or guardian and then submitted to the school. Also worth noting is that the form does not ask questions about the student’s gender identity. 

FHSAA public relations (PR) specialist Ryan Harrison has stated that the sex at birth question “aligns” with Florida’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which was passed in 2021 and prevents transgender athletes from competing on teams that suit their gender identities.  

While community outrage attacked the questions on menstrual history as unnecessary and a violation of privacy, members did not react the same way toward the question on sex assigned at birth, which could be due to a lack of a spotlight on the issue. At a Feb. 9 FHSAA board meeting, board members did not address the new question on sex assigned at birth. Furthermore, statistics on transgender and nonbinary athletes’ participation in Florida high school sports were not even mentioned.

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