LATHAM, N.Y. – Officials with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association are expected to adopt new guidelines for transgender student athletes, though schools won’t be required to follow them.
“This is to provide guidance to our members,” NYSPHSAA executive director Robrt Zayas told the Democrat & Chronicle. “This is by no means a mandated requirement.”
The association’s Central Committee will vote in Tarrytown July 28-30 when they’re expected to vote on some of the “most inclusive” draft guidelines for transgender students in the nation. Currently 37 states have transgender policies for student athletes, though the policies vary significantly, according to TransAthlete.com.
The New York guidelines would require no more than a note from a parent or medical professional as proof of a student’s gender identity.
The procedure would go like this: A student and parent notifies the superintendent that they want to play sports for the gender they identify as, rather than their birth gender. School officials determine if the student is eligible as if they were the opposite sex.
“The superintendent will confirm the gender identity asserted for the purposed of trying out for an interscholastic sports team through documentation from the parent, guardian, guidance counselor, or from a doctor, psychologist or other medical professional,” according to the proposal.
Once the student is determined to be eligible as the opposite sex, “the eligibility is granted for the duration of the student’s participation in interscholastic athletics.
“The student must meet all NYSPHSAA standards for eligibility for practice and competition,” according to the draft guidelines.
In other words, most of the decisions about accommodations and facilities access are left up to individual schools. The NYSPHSAA draft proposal sends appeals by students or opposing teams to the state education commissioner.
The policy does not address what parents are concerned about most, which is the safety of their children. A raging debate in Minnesota last year largely centered on young teen girls sharing showers with young teen boys who say they’re girls.
Ads opposing the Minnesota State High School League’s policy for transgender student athletes featured a bummed out female softball player and posed some important questions: “The end of girls’ sports?” the ads read. “Her dreams of a scholarship shattered, your 14-year-old daughter just lost her position on an all-girl team to a male … and now she may have to shower with him.
“Are you willing to let that happen?”
Minnesota officials eventually approved a transgender policy requiring schools to allow students of the opposite sex to use shower, restroom and locker facilities with their teammates. The state’s lawmakers have since entertained the idea of repealing the new rules, TwinCities.com reports.
New York’s proposed transgender policy also conflicts with its current policy for girls playing on boys teams and vice versa.
“New York has a policy regarding mixed competition … that suggests denying participation to the crossover student if it means cutting a student whose biological gender is that of the team,” the Democrat & Chronicle reports.
With only an estimated dozen transgender student athletes in New York, officials have managed to skip those important concerns, as well as issues relating to the unfair competitive advantage males would have in female sports, or the risks females might face in high school football.
But that’s not for lack of trying.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pressed state education officials to create guidelines for schools to accommodate transgender students, and people like TransAthlete.com founder Chris Mosier are constantly advocating for more special privileges for trans athletes.
“It’s not enough for us to pass a policy or recommendations without thinking through what the experience will be like for transgender students who go through the process to play sports consistent with their gender identity,” Mosier told the Democrat & Chronicle.
“We need to be thinking about facilities access, team uniforms, language used by coaches and players, and providing education to the school community around transgender identity.”