Conservatives weigh in on transgender student athletes

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Representatives of religious and conservative groups say the Nebraska School Activities Association should develop a policy on transgender student athletes that protects the “privacy and safety” of all students.

The high school activities group has yet to draft a policy on transgender students’ participation in sports. Nebraska Catholic Conference and Nebraska Family Alliance representatives told the board it shouldn’t allow transgender students to play in sports based on their gender preference.

The board met behind closed doors Thursday to discuss the issue, the Lincoln Journal Star reports (http://bit.ly/1Mi4gQy ). Nebraska School Activities Association executive director Jim Tenopir said Thursday that he doesn’t expect staff to come with a new policy proposal for board discussion until November or December.

Nebraska Family Alliance’s Karen Bowling told the board that people have called and emailed her office, concerned about possible changes.

“We encourage you to draft policy that respects the needs of all students and is not tailored to a few students at the expense of every other student,” Bowling said.

According to the newspaper, at least 38 states have adopted policies on transgender students in sports, though they vary widely. Sheri Rickert with the Nebraska Catholic Conference said some of those policies conflict with religiously affiliated schools’ free exercise of religion.

Students in Nebraska are currently required to play in sports according to their sex at birth. Title IX allows girls to play on boys’ teams when there isn’t a corresponding team for girls.

Tenopir has said he knows of at least two transgender students interested in playing sports.

A policy on transgender athletes was introduced two years ago by the executive director of the Nebraska School Activities Association at the time. It wasn’t enacted.

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