Nebraska transgender student athlete policy created with ‘Midwestern values’ in mind

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska School Activities Association has proposed a draft policy that would put the initial decision to let transgender students in high school sports in the hands of parents and local school districts.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the draft policy, which advanced Dec. 9, says parents and the student would have to notify the school if the student identifies with a gender different from what is listed on a birth certificate.

The school can then decide whether to pursue a waiver from the association. Any requests would be evaluated by the newly formed Gender Identity Eligibility Committee, which would take into consideration hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery before a transgender student would be allowed to participate in sports. Final decisions may be appealed to an association committee.

The policy also says that transgender students who are approved to participate in sports but have not had sex reassignment surgery would be required to use locker rooms and restrooms that are associated with their gender at birth. Private facilities could be provided for students, if available.

Nebraska School Activities Association’s executive director, Jim Tenopir, said the proposed policy was created with “Midwestern values” in mind.

“We wanted to assure a level playing field, assure competitive balance and protect the safety of young people and address personal privacy interests of all students,” Tenopir said.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a statement that allowing school districts to shape policy on the matter was the right approach, even though he had “concerns about allowing someone of the opposite sex competing in the same sports as my child.”

Amy Miller, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union‘s Nebraska branch, says that the proposal is still being reviewed, but could face costly and lengthy civil rights litigation or the loss of federal funds for treating transgender students in a discriminatory manner.

The NSAA has been working to draft a policy since this summer, when the organization was told that two transgender students, reportedly from the Omaha area, had expressed interest in playing winter sports.

The proposal, and an amended proposal basing gender on what’s listed on a driver’s license, will be debated during six district NSAA meetings next month.

If three of the six districts approve either of the proposals, a general assembly of the NSAA membership will consider those bylaw changes in April.

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