Transgender guidelines for prep sports considered

By The Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 30, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.



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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota High School League is set to vote this week on the establishment of guidelines for transgender student-athlete participation.

The guidelines would be the first in the state for transgender student athletes. The proposal describes how schools should accommodate facility use and privacy. It also outlines the medical documentation that students must have to identify themselves as transgender, including evidence of hormone therapy, surgery and parental or guardian consent.

The league drafted the plan with advice from OutFront Minnesota, an advocacy group for transgender issues. The current draft was developed through the best practices of transgender athlete policies in 32 other states, according to David Stead, executive director of the Minnesota State High School League. It states that an athlete should use the locker room, shower and bathrooms of the gender he or she identifies with.

"It just simply puts some structure around the issue that is facing schools should they have someone present themselves and want to participate as an eligible athlete on their school teams," Stead said.

The proposal has drawn opposition from the Minnesota Family Council and the Child Protection League. Opponents are urging parents to contact league representatives with concerns.

Michele Lentz, state coordinator of the Child Protection League, said she thinks hiding the biological gender of a student athlete from his or her team could be harmful.

"Do you think that it's possible that in these kinds of situations where they are using facilities, showers, bathrooms, maybe traveling, that ... that identity might accidentally be revealed," she asked, "and have we then created a situation that is potentially traumatic for these students?"

Before entering 11th grade at Hopkins High School, Jae Bates asked to be addressed as a transgender male by coaches and teammates of the girls' track and field team.

"I was, you know, treated equally and fairly on the team and they called me by my correct pronouns that I wanted to go by," Bates said Monday. "You know, I wasn't treated any different. Everyone really wanted to respect and allow me to still be part of the community and part of the team."

Bates preferred to change in the nurse's office of in a unisex bathroom at the high school. As a college student in Washington, he said he continues to use unisex facilities for privacy.

"I don't think a lot of kids like changing in front of people," Bates said. "And I'm not going to be aggressive in a changing room. The spider is more afraid of you."

The league, which represents nearly 500 of the state's schools, is expected to hold a workshop on the policy Wednesday and vote on it Thursday.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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The Associated Press

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