Virginia school sports league eases requirements for transgender students


RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia statewide organization than governs public high school athletics has softened its regulations on transgender students, guidelines which previously have been called the most restrictive in the nation.

high-school-sportsA 25-member panel of the Virginia High School League (VHSL) comprised of school principals and sports directors, voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a new policy which allows for student athletes to participate on team that correspond with their gender identity.

The new policy is not without its difficulties, but is being called a vast improvement over the previous policy approved in February which required transgender student athletes to first undergo sexual reassignment surgery.

The previous policy proved to be uniquely limiting because medical professionals typically require an individual to be at least 18-years-old before undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

The new policy eliminates this requirement but stipulates that in order to play for the team an individual identifies with, they must be confirmed to have displayed “a consistent identity different than the gender listed on the student’s official birth certificate.”

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The “confirmation” is a multi-step process that includes a written statement from the student, and supporting statements from the student’s parents, teachers or peers; documentation of medical procedures or medication; and another written statement from a healthcare professional.

The school’s principal must also provide a statement that the student’s gender identity “is bona fide and not for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage in competitive athletics.”

Participation is then subject to approval by a three-person district committee.

On Thursday, the Minnesota Sports High School League approved a similar, but less restrictive set of guidelines for transgender students. In that state, consistent with recommendations from LGBT advocacy groups, eligibility is determined at the local level by a school official, versus a district or state committee.

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