So…you think all that legislation is aimed at protecting you from the transes?

I know, some people think having trans kids in school is a peril (it’s infectious, don’t you know) and states like Florida and Texas are freaking out with wild legislation “for the children”, but there’s a bigger worry you ought to have — much bigger, since the Trans Peril is nonexistent — and that is they’re coming for the cis women now. And after that, the cis men.

Florida now requires all student athletes to fill out a rather invasive questionnaire. Part of it is marked “optional”, but who knows how long that will last, and one wonders how much suspicion will be cast on those who refuse to answer.

Seizures. Fainting spells. Allergies.
Florida student athletes have to report all these medical conditions when they register to play for the season.
But all female athletes in the state also are asked to report their history of menstrual periods: When they got their first period, how many weeks pass between periods and when they had their last one, to name a few.
The information is reported on athletes’ annual physical form, which they are required to fill out with a physician and turn in to their school’s athletic director.


Let us ask the obvious question: why does the school need to know all that?

No, really. When I went to school, all that was kept quiet, nobody needed to know about it, let alone report it to the athletic director.

Why does the athletic director need to know how long your periods last, or how many periods you had in the last year? What will they do with that information?

Oh, I know. They’re going to upload it to a commercial database run by a for-profit company called Aktivate which will never ever sell that information or accidentally leak it or be hacked.

But I repeat: WHY? There are a few hints.

Abortion rights advocates who stress reproductive privacy in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade worry that women’s menstrual history may be used to prosecute them if they terminate a pregnancy.
And a vocal contingent of parents want forms to stay offline in the name of their parental rights over their children’s data — which they worry about being leaked or sold.
“I think we’re all on edge right now,” Haller said. He added that he has “very little reason to have faith in our state leadership” to keep data provided to educational institutions private.

It might also be useful if you want to categorize the population into menstruators and non-menstruators. I don’t know why anyone would want to do that, but certain people have a weird obsession with that kind of reductionist division.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    … he has “very little reason to have faith in our state leadership” …

    Yes – and the rest of that sentence serves little purpose.

  2. raven says

    But all female athletes in the state also are asked to report their history of menstrual periods: When they got their first period, how many weeks pass between periods and when they had their last one, to name a few.

    The information is reported on athletes’ annual physical form, which they are required to fill out with a physician and turn in to their school’s athletic director.

    It’s none of their business.

    Don’t fill out forms like that. Ever. Just refuse.
    They can’t make you anyway and they know it.

    The relevance of that information to athletics and the school is zero, nil, nothing.

  3. larpar says

    The school has no need to track that. The athlete and their doctor sure, but not the school.

  4. Oggie: Mathom says

    The form does say “Optional” above that section.

    How many schools are going to willfully misinterpret that? My guess would be most of the rural school districts. If not all.

  5. raven says

    Amenorrhea is a real thing that happens to athletes who train excessively, and there may be legitimate pediatric health reasons to track that.

    And all the Florida schools are staffed by doctors and PAs who just teach in their spare time.

    You do have a point though.
    When I need medical care, the first person I see is either a PE or Social Studies high school teacher. (/s)

    PS I haven’t seen the nym Aryaman Shalizi before. Are you really this stupid or just not familiar with Florida and the christofascist loons that run the place?

  6. says

    The school has no need to track that. The athlete and their doctor sure, but not the school.

    Or a legitimate study, which would look nothing like this and would, needless to say, require informed consent.

  7. robro says

    Isn’t collecting that kind of information covered by HIPAA? If the schools want some kind of assurance that a student is healthy enough to participate in athletics, then that can be certified by the student’s doctor without schools collecting any personal health information.

    Also, I find it doubtful that schools will be able to use that information effectively unless they want to target a particular student. Schools and even school systems don’t have the resources to use all the data they already collect. School admins, teachers, coaches, and so forth certainly don’t have time or expertise to evaluate a student’s health based on that information.

    And, yeah, I wouldn’t trust the “Optional” bit at all. If you don’t complete the form then you might be excluded from some activities. Kind of like if a student doesn’t join the end-of-game prayer the coach has set up as “optional” can mean you get less time to play, less attention to your skills, etc.

  8. springa73 says

    If I read the article correctly, Florida has included these questions for female athletes for 20 years already. The current concern seems to be that with some school districts switching the questionnaires from paper to online format, the information will be much less secure than when it was on paper in a file somewhere. Also, now that states can criminalize abortion the consequences of the information getting out can be much worse.

    It does seem unnecessary and intrusive for schools to want to know this type of medical information. I’m surprised there weren’t objections over the past couple of decades. Maybe there were objections and they just didn’t get much publicity.

  9. specialffrog says

    Re. HIPAA, it only covers health care providers, health insurance companies and entities that provide services to the above (and employees of all covered entities).

    If this blog started asking everyone for health information and people gave it — and you always have the right to disclose your own information — PZ wouldn’t suddenly be required to follow HIPAA rules for handling the data.

    The schools presumably have to adhere to some kind of data protection rules, though I suspect they are much weaker than HIPAA — especially in Florida.

  10. whheydt says

    Re: speialffrog @ #13…
    Some years ago I worked as a programmer for a drug store chain. Since I was working on the pharmacy systems (and, in the course of my work, had access to the store databases), I was covered by HIPAA and required to take HIPAA training. The one thing that stuck was that violating any section of it was subject to up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

    What I would presume is that high school systems likely have very poor security. And that’s before you even get to any data protection rules. There’s a real chance that their systems are maintained by some of their brighter students…who may know more about the systems than the school administrators do.

  11. says

    #3: Yes, I’ve known some runners, and dysmenorrhea is a real issue (there has also been anthropological research on hunter/gatherer societies where it’s fairly common for women to cease menstruation for years at a time while working/breastfeeding). The issue isn’t whether there is a health concern that ought to be track, but who should be tracking it. Florida seems to think coaches ought to know all these personal details.

  12. says

    Years ago, HIPAA was supposed to help keep our medical data private. It is a farce now. All the Medical Corporations (including private practice physicians and clinics) use third-party software which gets all the ‘private personal’ medical data of ALL patients. There is a very insecure National Medical Database used by (and allows access by) all physicians, Medicare, Medicaid and Insurance companies. The reality is that THERE IS NO PRIVACY ANYMORE.

  13. says

    All those forms you sign before you get Medical Insurance, Medicaid, Lab work, physicians, hospitals, urgent care facilities, etc. require you to allow them to disclose your data to whomever they ‘need’ to.

  14. says

    There’s a deeper, darker third party that’s probably involved here: The school’s liability insurer. Which, because this is not a “health insurance” policy, is not covered by HIPAA.

    Liability policies for schools is an extremely specialized, extremely concentrated market. And that allows the insurers, or the local agents/brokers for the insurers, to make informational demands that are not, umm, reasonable, so long as there is any possibility that the question relates to a potentially covered circumstance. Consider athletic dysmenorrhea for a moment. Is it out of the bounds of possiblity for a school district to fear being sued for contributing to the later-expressing illness of a runner for “failure to monitor”? Nope.† Therefore, if the district wants a liability policy that might cover it from “failure to monitor” claims, the insurance provider/agent/broker can, with a straight face, ask for this data.

    Note that I said “can,” not “should.” If there is a more prominent example of Dunning-Kruger than the arrogant judgmentalism and cost-minimization attitude of insurance adjusters, I have yet to encounter it — and I spent plenty of time inside the Beltway.

    Note, also, that I’m saying this is a “this one too” post hoc rationalization, not the sole cause. But it’s an undercurrent that is seldom acknowledged.

    † Whether it would be “out of the bounds of possibility” if medical care and treatment were considered to be of-right-without-direct-payment is another issue. One also intertwined with the insurance industry.

  15. says

    I’m much more fearful of our entire ‘healthcare system’ than anyone who has any ‘deviation from the xtian terrorist binary male female mandate’.

  16. specialffrog says

    @shermanj: Do you have a source for those claims? Googling “National Medical Database” does not turn up any evidence of its existence. Companies like Epic have the ability to share patient records between their hospitals — which is a large chunk of the US — but it isn’t like any doctor can just pull up whatever patient record they want.

  17. says

    @21 special frog,
    I was told by both an insurance broker who I trust who is a friend and client, as well as one physician that I had, that there were specific categories of medical diagnoses that were reported to a nationwide medical database. I didn’t ask them for details, but it might be an Insurance Consortium database. You are probably right that not just any doctor can pull up any record on any patient. But, I am sure that many insurance companies and ‘healthcare corporations’ can access that data and share it. (I’m not paranoid, just skeptical based on knowing that insurance companies ‘rate’ (just like ‘redlining’) people for having many inherited and acquired conditions)

  18. says

    p.s. I use duckduckgo for searches because it provides natural results and labels any ads. G00GLE feeds you the search results that it thinks you want, based on following you around and gathering info on you, not pure natural results.

  19. says

    “When they got their first period, how many weeks pass between periods and when they had their last one, to name a few.”

    Answer: None of your business, pal!

  20. silvrhalide says

    The obvious answer is that NO ONE at the school needs to know that. But it IS a handy way to chase girls out of sports by embarrassing them to the point that they don’t want to join. Make the process hard enough, embarrassing enough and long enough and a lot of people will opt out.

    It also paves the way for further abuse from coaches and other authority figures. Like this:
    “The year-long probe by Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general, found that some of the game’s top coaches were the subjects of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, including some that previously had not been made public. The coaches also leaned on vicious coaching tactics, Yates found, including “relentless, degrading tirades; manipulation that was about power, not improving performance; and retaliation against those who attempted to come forward.””
    Naturally, those new forms won’t do anything to normalize that kind of intrusive, abusive behavior. /s

    @3,15 If amenorrhea was some sort of disqualifier or if anyone (coach, administrator) were actually concerned about female health something like 75% of female athletes would disappear. Particularly gymnasts and competitive runners. Then again, if anyone in coaching or athletic administration were actually concerned about female athletes’ health, Larry Nassar wouldn’t have been able to operate with impunity for decades and it would not be acceptable for gymnastic coaches to fat-shame, rib-count or otherwise induce anorexic/bulimic eating behaviors in their athletes.
    If you want an example of the “sick system” that is pretty much all female sports, consider that many competitive female gymnasts don’t start menstruating until after they retire from the sport, which many of them do around age 18-21, ie., when they actually achieve legal status as women, not girls.

    Let’s not pretend that this is anything other than what it is: a way to out trans athletes, especially trans girls, but also a way to shame and humiliate ALL the girls who so much as think about joining sports.
    “According to notes that Sprague took from that October meeting with President Jeffrey Mancabelli and Athletic Director Dennis Hart, the administrators told the coach that coed participation would cause potential issues with other sports. They also brought up a viewpoint from a school board member that it could hurt the school’s ability to recruit “alpha males.””
    But now you have a handy way out! If your male wrestler gets his ass handed to him by a girl in competition, whip out that handy form you forced your female athlete to fill out and “prove” she’s not a “real girl” (as opposed to Real Girl? Ick.) because she doesn’t menstruate.
    You know, like this:
    ““Girls don’t play boys sports in Lancaster schools,” the physician wrote after Trista’s physical.”
    ““It’s because I’m a girl and they don’t want girls taking the opportunities from the boys,” Trista told The Washington Post. “But there’s no such thing as a sport just for boys. Every sport is for everyone, and he just doesn’t want girls to outshine the boys.””
    and this:

    It’s also a good way to get rid of any coaches with a shred of integrity who might otherwise be willing to stand up FOR their female athletes.

  21. lb says

    I was asked to give this information when I was a freshman in college 43 years ago. I refused to answer, saying it was none of their business. Nothing was said to me about it.

  22. cvoinescu says

    I agree with all the concerns, this is creepy and unsettling.

    But, peeking above that section, I have two questions. What is a “hepatitus”, and why would I trust anyone with my private medical information who doesn’t know how to spell common medical terms and/or doesn’t know what those red wavy underlines mean?

  23. gijoel says

    Obviously, the goal is detect when a girl flowers into womanhood, so that they can redirect her away from the false path of self-determination, and to her true career as a handmaiden. /s

  24. seachange says

    24 Not a school district, the biggest one LAUSD. They couldn’t have afforded to pay the ransom if they wanted to.