4 schools propose policy for transgender students in sports

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Four parochial schools in the Nebraska School Activities Association have introduced a proposal on how schools should handle the participation of transgender students in sports.

The Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1krR854 ) reported Thursday that the proposal, introduced in four of the association’s six districts, would require students to participate in sports according to the gender listed on their birth certificates. Two of the four districts have passed the proposal and are awaiting legislative approval.

The association has met in executive session to discuss proposed policy on transgender students. NSAA Executive Director Jim Tenopir has said he knows of at least two schools in Nebraska that have transgender students who are interested in participating in sports.

JD Flynn, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese in Lincoln, says their proposal isn’t an attempt to circumvent any policy the association may draft, but an attempt to introduce a proposal that is fair to all students.

According to NSAA Associate Director Deb Velder, bylaw changes passed by members trump changes enacted by the board.

“Schools like (Pius X High School) wanted to represent in a proactive way the concerns their parents and students raised,” Flynn said.

According to Flynn, requiring students to participate based on the gender listed on their birth certificates allows transgender students to play sports while addressing concerns about fairness and safety based on physical differences between males and females.

“We really do think this is most principally a matter of fairness,” Flynn said.

According to the association district agenda, an explanation of the proposal notes that such a policy would avoid ``supporting or encouraging psychological or medical interventions’’ and respects the First Amendment rights of religiously affiliated schools.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska has written to the NSAA, encouraging the association to draft a policy that respects transgender students’ participation in sports. The ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller said on Wednesday that policies based on gender listed on birth certificates might interfere with a student’s privacy, and is inconsistent with guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The original proposal and an amended version are scheduled to be voted on by all six districts in January. If at least three districts pass one or both proposals, they will move on to the NSAA’s representative assembly, which meets in April.

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