How should transgendered athletes be treated when it comes to competing in sports at the high school and college levels? This was a question that was recently tackled by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and It Takes a Team! (part of the Women’s Sports foundation). These two organizations assembled a committee of “professionals that included experts on transgendered issues that ranged in disciplines (law, medicine, and advocacy) as well as athletic leaders from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National High School Federation” to collectively write a report that would aid high schools and colleges around the country to take the necessary steps towards equality for all. This 56 page report is also significant because it is the first of its kind to explain rules about fair and equal policies that school administrators should follow with regards to its transgendered athletes.
So why is a report like this necessary? Well, as we have seen through other stories that have recently been in the news about how the topic of being transgendered is handled in education such as the transgendered teen who was denied the title of homecoming king, schools don’t always come up with the best ways to cope with students who don’t fit the typical mold. Although Oak Reed, the female-to-male transgendered teen, has since posted a letter saying that the school has accommodated his needs very nicely in other ways (i.e. his own room at band camp and offering a P.E. class online to eliminate locker rooms) they still failed to handle the homecoming king situation properly. Even though this article is about athletics and not homecoming, both are related by how they are/were dealt with by educators. This being said, although some school corporations are beginning to realize that they must accommodate all of their students regardless of gender or sexual orientation, this is not the case in the majority of situations. Thus, by publishing this report, NCLR and It Takes a Team! are hopeful that some changes can and will be made.
The report itself contains information about why adopting a policy about transgendered athletes is helpful and why not adopting one is harmful. It talks about how including transgendered athletes help to “dispel stereotypes and fears about gender diversity. When transgendered students are stigmatized and excluded, even non-transgendered students may experience pressure to conform to gender-role stereotypes as a way to avoid being bullied or harassed themselves.” However, on the flip side, they talk about how not adopting one is promoting discrimination, winning no matter what the cost, and unnecessary legal action.
Will this report solve all the problems and misinformation that high schools and colleges have about transgendered athletes and students? Probably not; however, it is a wonderful and much needed step in the right direction in order to promote inclusion and tolerance for all students no matter what their identities are.