Schools in Nebraska are considering strict restrictions on transgender teenagers' eligibility to join high school sports teams that align with their gender identity or expression, including a requirement for hormone therapy, reports the Lincoln Journal Star.
The guidelines, which require medical intervention, are aimed squarely at students who were assigned male at birth but identify as female.
The policy proposed by the Nebraska School Activities Association would require these teens to undergo at least one year of hormone therapy, which some doctors will not prescribe until the later teen years. Requiring hormones, say transgender advocates, makes no sense since chemically altering the body's secondary sex charateristics is common but not required for a person to be transgender.
A vote on the proposal is set for next month, and NSAA executive director Jim Tenopir conceded to the newspaper that it goes against guidance from the federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. But he supports it just the same, he said, because it puts the privacy of nontransgender students first and is in line with traditional Nebraskan values.
“That’s something we’re ready and willing to fight,” he said.
Other aspects of the proposal would be the creation of a review board, dubbed the gender identity eligibility committee. Like a jury, that panel's members would have to vote unanimously for a student to be accepted as a transgender athlete.
Critics, including a group called the Nebraska Trans Community, outlined their objections to the idea to the paper, saying it would only take one person who opposes transgender participation to derail a student’s ambitions.
The proposal also would require transgender students to use locker rooms and restrooms that match the gender they were assigned at birth.
Following months of debate behind closed doors, the NSAA drafted the policy on hormone treatment out of concern that a transgender female athlete might have a competitive advantage over cisgender (nontrans) female opponents, the Journal Star notes.
The proposal would also allow individual schools to set their own policies on trans athletes' eligibility rather than let the NSAA make the decision. This, said Tenopir, means religious or private schools to make decisions based on their beliefs or traditions. Administrators would decide whether to consult the NSAA on student participation.