Minnesota High School League Approves Transgender Student-Athlete Policy
Beginning next school year, transgender student-athletes in Minnesota will be allowed to compete on sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Earlier this year, the board of the Minnesota State High School League unanimously voted to table the proposed policy due to an overwhelming public response both in favor and opposed to it. On Thursday, the board once again took up the issue, this time voting to pass the changes by a large margin.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, 18 of the 20 board members voted in favor of the policy, with one member voting against it and another abstaining. Under the new policy, which goes into effect for the 2015-16 school year, a transgender student-athlete and his or her parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must notify the school in writing that "the student has a consistent gender identity or that the gender identity is sincerely held as part of the student's core identity" that differs from the student-athlete's gender identity assigned at birth. The appeal must include a written statement "affirming consistent gender-related identity and expression to which the student self-relates," along with a written statement from a health-care professional and statements from other parents, friends, and/or teachers.
Upon receiving the appeal, the state high school league will assign an independent hearing officer to review the information. That officer's decision will be binding until the state league's next board of directors meeting.
As John Millea, a spokesman for the association, tweeted, Minnesota isn't exactly paving new roads with this policy:
Minnesota will become the 33rd state to implement a policy for transgender high school athletes.— John Millea (@MSHSLjohn) December 4, 2014
However, it proved particularly contentious, as my colleague Mark Walsh covered on the Education and the Media blog. Roughly 2,800 people signed a petition calling for the Star Tribune to apologize for running two ads this fall from a group in opposition to the policy. Comments on the association's Facebook post announcing the enactment of the changes also drew heated reaction, with one commenter calling it "discrimination against females" and another describing the decision as "an absolute joke."
Dave Stead, the executive director of the state high school league, told the Star Tribune that not all member schools were in favor of the changes.
"I've heard from a limited number of schools that say, 'I don't like the idea,' and then once we've talked about it they said, 'I still don't like the idea, but I'm supportive of the initiative of trying to give us direction,'" Stead said.
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