Washington, D.C. February 9, 2023 – Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-California), Ilhan Omar (D- Minnesota), and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-Florida) introduced legislation to prohibit schools that receive federal funding from requiring information regarding students’ menstrual cycles after Republican elected officials in several states proposed regulations that would require students to turn over their private medical data for potential tracking.
The Privacy in Education Regarding Individuals’ Own Data (PERIOD) Act would stop efforts by Republicans to track students’ menstrual cycles – a proposal put forward, most prominently by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as a roundabout way of discriminating against trans students that would also subject cisgender students to invasive government mandates of their private medical data. Since October 2022, public K-12 schools, colleges, and universities in Florida and Colorado have signaled their intention to begin requiring students to submit medical history regarding their menstrual period cycles. While the mandate is said to be intended to help screen for abnormalities in students’ medical histories, it has the potential to be used to discriminate against transgender students and prohibit them from playing sports, track information regarding menstrual cycles that could be used against pregnant students and students seeking or choosing to have abortions, and simply prohibit students from athletics who choose not to comply.
“Mandating students turn over their private medical data is a massive and invasive overreach – one that Republican governors and legislatures have proposed as part of their ongoing efforts to dehumanize trans individuals. There is absolutely no reason — none — that elected officials and the government should have access to the specific details of a student’s menstrual cycles – even more so when they are a minor. We must put an end to this macabre proposal from Ron DeSantis and others, and protect students’ privacy and medical autonomy,” said Rep. Schiff.
“It is simply dystopian, immoral, and a violation of our basic rights that school districts are requiring athletes to answer detailed, private questions about their menstrual cycles, including when they got their first period and how much time passes between their periods. There is absolutely no legal or medical justification for these draconian measures, especially at a time when abortion rights and trans rights are under attack. That’s why I’m proud to join Representative Schiff in ensuring that bars federal funds from going to any educational institutions that participate in this behavior,” said Rep. Omar.
“Requiring students to provide information with respect to their menstrual period would be yet another draconian measure instituted by a state that purports to love a less invasive government. Not even two months into the new year, the state of Florida has banned books in schools, blocked AP African American history courses from being taught in classrooms, and is now attempting to require students to share private health information to play on athletic fields and courts. Tracking a person’s menstrual cycle is an unconscionable violation of a person’s constitutionally protected right to privacy,” said Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick. “The Florida High School Athletic Association may be playing a role in Governor DeSantis’ appeal to his far-right base, but I will not stand idly by as students in my district are forced to share private, intimate information concerning their bodies to play the sport(s) they love. We are all familiar with the phrase ‘let kids be kids’—so we should freely allow children to play a game with their friends, classmates, and teammates without local and state governments infringing upon their constitutionally protected rights.”
These Republican-led proposals have received significant pushback from pediatrics groups, LGBTQ organizations, women’s rights organizations, and reproductive rights groups. There is also significant concern for student data privacy as advocates suspect that school districts intend to save and track this information via third-party apps.
The legislation is supported by A Better Place, American Federation of Teachers, Education Law Center, Equality California, Family Equality, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, National Disability Rights Network, National Education Association, Network for Public Education, and Silver State Equality.