BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. – The Minnesota State High School League is set to vote Thursday on a recommended policy for transgender student athletes that outraged parents because it calls for its 500 member schools to keep their identity under wraps.
The Minnesota Child Protection League published a full-page in the sports section of the Star Tribune recently that depicted a school locker room and posed a question to parents: “A male wants to shower beside your 14-year-old daughter. Are YOU ok with that?”
Currently female athletes in Minnesota are permitted to play on either male or female sports teams, but males cannot play on female teams.
The policy proposed by the Minnesota State High School League – a nonprofit aimed at promoting high school sports and interscholastic activities and establishing uniform eligibility rules – used best practices from 32 states to develop guidelines for Minnesota’s transgender athletes for issues like documentation necessary to identify as transgender, and how schools should handle privacy concerns in school facilities, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
“Its guiding principles are that transgender students should have the opportunity to compete in sports and their privacy will be protected,” according to the news site.
The Child Protection League, a group that fights to protect children from “exploitation, indoctrination and violence,” contends it “categorically rejects the underlying premise of the policy that gender is a matter of choice, not biology,” state coordinator Michele Lentz told the Star Tribune.
“The parents that we’re talking to are up in arms. They didn’t know that this was going on. They didn’t know that this policy was being considered and they’re appalled,” she told MPR.
Lentz said the policy could create safety issues for some students.
“We don’t see the transgender student themselves as dangerous,” she told the Tribune. “But other kids who might lack maturity could make situations in the locker room dangerous.”
Lentz also took issue with keeping the identity of transgender students from their teammates and parents.
“If a girl wants to play on the boy’s team and a boy wants to play on the girl’s team that’s one thing,” she told MPR.
“Do you think it’s possible in these kinds of situations where they are using facilities, showers, bathrooms, maybe traveling that … that identity might accidentally be revealed?” she questioned.
“And have we then created a situation that is potential traumatic for these students?”
News reports cited former high school track athlete Jae Bates, who attended Hopkins High School as a female for freshman and sophomore year, then converted to male for the last two years.
Bates, who is now attending the University of Puget Sound in Washington State, told the media he used the unisex bathroom or nurse’s bathroom to change, and didn’t really have any issues with aggressive students or acceptance from his peers.
“I was, you know, treated equally and fairly on the team and they called me by my correct pronouns I wanted to go by,” Bates told MPR. “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.”