Transgender Inclusion

 

Federal + State Law

Though the NCAA, the International Olympic Committee, and various high school associations and professional and amateur leagues have allowed transgender athletes to participate in accordance with their gender identity since 2004, unfortunately, many schools still do not have a policy governing the inclusion of transgender students in athletics or their use of locker rooms, bathrooms and showers. Further, many physical education teachers and coaches are unaware of the policies that do exist.

According to Transathlete.com, there are 16 states that have friendly policies that help facilitate full inclusion of trans/non-binary/GNC (gender non-conforming) students in high school athletics. A requirement for medical ‘proof’ and/or invasive disclosures are in place in guidance in 14 states. Additionally, there are 10 states that did not issue statewide guidance on best practices that should be implemented in schools, allow schools to create policies on their own, or rely on a single person to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Discriminatory policies that create additional barriers inclusion of trans/nonbinary/GNC students are in place in 11 states. Thus, it is easy to see why sports participation among transgender youth may be lower in part because of the disparity of existing policies across the country.

Over the past several years, increasing numbers of state legislatures, in defiance of Title IX, have introduced laws barring transgender students from participating in athletics or using bathrooms and locker rooms according to their gender identity. These legislative actions are based on stereotypes and capitalize on fear and misinformation about transgender people. In addition, these laws contribute to creating a school climate in which young transgender people, who deserve understanding and respect in schools, may be subject to increased discrimination and isolation.

The wide disparity in policies and laws governing the participation of transgender students in athletics and physical education reflect the depth of misunderstanding about gender identity and the benefits of allowing transgender K-12 students to participate in sports according to their affirmed gender identity.

On a positive note, the Biden administration recently interpreted the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Bostock v. Clayton County as prohibiting gender identity discrimination under Title IX. But though this interpretation will help protect transgender students from discrimination, including in the context of school sports participation, there is still much more work to be done at state and federal levels.

How does your state measure up? Visit Transathlete.com (https://www.transathlete.com/k-12) to learn more about policies in various states across the country.

Resources

ACLU – The Coordinated Attack on Trans Athlete Students: https://www.aclu.org/news/lgbtq-rights/the-coordinated-attack-on-trans-student-athletes/

ACLU – Four Myths About Trans Athletes Debunked: https://www.aclu.org/news/lgbtq-rights/four-myths-about-trans-athletes-debunked/

“All 50” - The Transgender-Inclusive High School Sports and Activities Policy and Education Project, LGBT Sports Foundation, Proposed Model High School Policy— https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2bc3fc_c8eeefb073a8421396f6520a4cca9f3b.pdf

Athlete Ally – An Online Course for Coaches and Athletic Leaders on LGBTQ Inclusion in Athletics: http://allylearn.wpengine.com/

Center for American Progress – Fair Play: The Importance of Sports Participation for Transgender Youth, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbtq-rights/reports/2021/02/08/495502/fair-play/

Center for American Progress – Fact Sheet: The Importance of Sports Participation for Transgender Youth, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbtq-rights/reports/2021/03/18/497336/fact-sheet-importance-sports-participation-transgender-youth/

Gender Inclusive Schools – Policy Builder for Developing a Gender Inclusion Policy for Your School or School District: https://www.genderinclusiveschools.org/gender-inclusive-policy-builder-transgender

GLSEN Public Policy Office – Gender Affirming and Inclusive Athletics Participation: https://www.glsen.org/policy

GLSEN: https://www.glsen.org/activity/gender-affirming-inclusive-athletics-participation

National Federation of State High School Associations – Developing Policies for Transgender Students on High School Teams: https://www.nfhs.org/articles/developing-policies-for-transgender-students-on-high-school-teams/

OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS and U.S. Department of Education - Resources for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/lgbt.html

The Trevor Project – Research Brief: LGBTQ Youth Sports Participation: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/2020/06/23/research-brief-lgbtq-youth-sports-participation/

Transathlete.com: https://www.transathlete.com/k-12

Transgender Law and Policy Institute – Guidelines for Creating Policies for Transgender Children in Recreational Sports: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2bc3fc_6cd03b8e19147c71c0153c81e96babcb.pdf

You Can Play Project: https://www.youcanplayproject.org/