FHSAA board has final say on requiring athletes to submit menstrual history. How is group chosen?

If the Florida High School Athletic Association decides to move forward with its proposal to require female students to disclose their menstruation history, the decision will be made by the association’s board of directors.

Now who, exactly, is this group making the decision, how did those involved assume their roles and how do they gather the information necessary to decide how they vote?

The FHSAA Board of Directors is the executive authority of the association, which is a governing nonprofit organization of athletics for Florida high schools and is not a state agency.

The board of directors consists of 16 people: The Commissioner of Education or a designated representative selected by the commissioner, three representatives appointed by the commissioner and 12 people elected from the school and district level. Among those dozen elected members, four come from public schools, four come from private schools, two are district school superintendents and two are district school board members.

The Commissioner of Education or the commissioner’s designated representative has an indefinite seat on the board. The other 15 members serve three-year terms and can serve on the board for no more than two consecutive terms (a maximum of six consecutive years).

South Florida’s representatives on the FHSAA Board of Directors include Hialeah American Senior High athletic director Marcus Gabriel and Ryan Smith, the athletic director at Palm Beach Gardens’ The Benjamin School. Ralph Arza, one of the three representatives appointed by the Commissioner of Education, also has South Florida roots — he immigrated from Cuba and graduated from Miami Senior High in 1978.

The board meets formally at the FHSAA’s main office in Gainesville five times a year — February, April, June, September and November — to hear and propose new guidelines as well as vote to implement new rules for its member schools. A majority of voters is needed to adopt any change.

The proposals come from various advisory committees that are set up to review FHSAA regulations and offer recommendations for changes.

This includes the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, which proposed the draft for an updated physical form last month ahead of the next board of directors meeting Feb. 26-27 in Gainesville. The update to the form, if approved, would make currently optional questions regarding a student’s menstrual cycle mandatory.

The Sports Medicine Advisory Committee “deals with a wide range of health, safety and risk minimization topics related to interscholastic sports participation,” according to the FHSAA website. The committee is also involved in “regular review and as needed revisions to the FHSAA health and safety policies,” and “contributes to this information in an effort to ensure the well-being of the student athletes in Florida.”

Among the members of the sports medicine advisory committee are two representatives from the Florida Alliance for Sports Medicine — UF Health and Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute’s Dr. Kevin Farmer and Orlando Health’s Dr. Daryl Osbahr — and 16 other medical professionals from across the state. Three of the other 16 members listed as being part of the committee on the FHSAA’s website have South Florida connections: Michele C. Benz, the head athletic trainer at Miami Palmetto Senior High; Dr. Todd Narson of Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Center; and Dr. Cary Zinkin, a podiatric sports physician based in Deerfield Beach.