School Board Mulls Restricting Middle School Transgender Participation

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A school district in North Carolina is reconsidering a current policy that allows middle school transgender students to compete in youth sports according to their gender identity. 

According to the Port City Daily, two New Hanover County School board members voted Monday to remove language in district's current policy that grants latitude to middle schoolers to participate in a sport that aligns with their gender identity. 

The committee was forced to review its current policy after republican board member Pat Bradford brought the matter up at a Jan. 10 meeting. Bradford, a republican who is new to the board, claimed the previous board was wrong when it voted to waive the amendment's first reading in June 2021. 

Stephanie Kraybill, who voted against rescinding the clause, characterized the move as a “backdoor attempt” to take away the rights of transgender students. 

Republican Josie Barnhart, also new to the board and committee chair, said the move was about creating consistency with high-school rules on transgender participation. 

Because high school student-athletes compete for scholarships and college roster spots, they are required to comply with statewide regulations. As a result, transgender students must go through a lengthy process mandated by the state high school association that includes the following documentation: 

  • Gender identity request form
  • School form indicating a change in student information software, PowerSchool, if available
  • Updated school transcript, including attendance information
  • A written statement from the student affirming the consistent gender identity and expression of which the student relates
  • Statements from individuals such as, but not limited to parents, friends, and/or teachers, which affirm that the actions, attitudes, and manner demonstrate the student’s consistent gender identification
  • A complete list of all the student’s prescribed, non-prescribed or over-the-counter, treatments or medications relative to the gender identity of the student
  • Written verification from an appropriate healthcare professional
  • Any other pertinent documentation or information, which the student or parent(s) believes relevant and appropriate

Barnhart contended that middle schoolers should follow the same steps as high school student. 

Kraybill argued that there was no reason to put middle schoolers through the process because the current policy has not led to any problems, also arguing that the process itself could put middle schoolers off from participating at all. 

Bradford cited an incident in October in Cherokee County where a high school transgender female volleyball players spike a ball into a an opponents head, causing a head and neck injuries. She argued that a lawsuit some day would be inevitable. 

“It hasn’t been filed today, but at some point there will be a lawsuit, and they will name the board and everyone else they can name,” Bradford said. “I’m trying to keep us from getting into that hot water.” 

Kraybill also noted that if the board did change its current policy, transgender middle schoolers who currently participate would need to be yanked off their current teams. 

The board will vote on the proposed amendment at its Feb. 7 meeting. 

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