Federal + State Law
Many schools have no policy governing the inclusion of transgender students in athletics or their use of locker rooms, bathrooms and showers, and many physical education teachers and coaches are unaware of the policies that do exist. As of spring 2016, 15 states have adopted inclusive transgender policies for high school athletics, 16 states have adopted policies that need some modification to be inclusive, 7 states have adopted policies that discriminate against transgender students in athletics, and 11 states have no policy governing the inclusion of transgender students on high school athletic teams (www.transathlete.com).
Over the past two 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. A few states, such as North Carolina and Mississippi, have enacted such a law. 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.
Since the election of President Donald Trump there has been a change in the Office of Civil Rights and Department of Education’s position on transgender students. They have eliminated the guidance that specifically included LGBTQ students’ protection under Title IX. However, it is important to note that law suits charging discrimination against transgender students under Title IX are still going through the courts. The courts are still addressing gender identity discrimination as a legitimate issue under Title IX regardless of the new administration’s position.
How does your state measure up? Use the resources below to find out what laws your state has related to transgender inclusion.
TRANSATHLETE — K-12 Policies by State: http://www.transathlete.com/#!k-12/c4w2
GLSEN — State Maps: http://www.glsen.org/article/state-maps
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