FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
PFLAG BLUE RIDGE CALLS ON VHSL TO REVISE TRANSGENDER STUDENT-ATHLETE POLICY
Charlottesville, Virginia – February 21, 2014
The recently released VHSL policy regarding participation of transgender youth in Virginia school sports is not inclusive. Instead, the policy excludes transgender youth from participating in youth sports because it establishes standards that are effectively impossible for Virginia’s transgender youth to meet.
The policy is in profound conflict with well-established medical, social, and mental health understanding of gender identity. PFLAG Blue Ridge calls for VHSL to rewrite the policy so that it conforms to modern, inclusive best practices.
Specifically, the policy should mirror that of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE):
Consistent with the statutory standard, “a school should accept a student’s assertion of his or her gender identity when there is consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity, or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity.”
We recommend that the following be considered when re-addressing the VHSL policy on transgender student athletes:
- The NCAA’s Inclusion of Transgender Student-Athletes (released August, 2011) is an example of a policy that is far more in line with current understanding of transgender identity. Note that genital surgery and sterilization are not required.
- The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)’s comprehensive guidelines (quoted, in part, above) includes the following unambiguous clarification of its policy: “If a student’s gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior meets this standard, the only circumstance in which a school may question a student’s asserted gender identity is where school personnel have a credible basis for believing that the student’s gender-related identity is being asserted for some improper purpose.”
- California’s Assembly Bill No. 1266, an amendment to its Education Code, confirms the right of transgender youth to use whatever bathroom and participate on whichever sports team they believe matches their gender identity. Again, there are no requirements for surgery or hormone treatment.
We feel that policies developed for younger student athletes should be at least as informed and inclusive as those developed for college-student athletes.
Jane Cornelius, President
Karen Barker, Secretary
PFLAG Blue Ridge
PFLAG is the nation’s foremost family-based organization committed to the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. Founded in 1973, PFLAG has 200,000 members and supporters in more than 500 chapters throughout the United States. PFLAG Blue Ridge serves Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, and surrounding Central Virginia communities. To learn more, please visit www.pflagblueridge.org.