Minnesota High school league votes to let transgender athletes pick their teams

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From MPR News:

After months of review, the Minnesota State High School League voted Thursday to let transgender athletes play on the sports teams that best align with their gender identity.

The vote was 18-1. One board member abstained.

Three Republican state lawmakers told the board that the Legislature, not the high school league, should handle policy on transgender student athletes. State Rep. Barb Yarusso, DFL- Shoreview, countered that the transgender policy would only apply to a handful of students and urged the board to act.

Supporters of the policy say it will make transgender students feel more welcome in sports. Critics say it’s risky to let transgender girls, who were born as boys, play on girls’ teams.

Melanie Outcalt, a 10th grader, said she was worried transgender girls who were born as boys would have an advantage in her favorite sport, volleyball.

“I think it’s unfair that you’re giving boys the opportunity to proclaim themselves as girls just so they can play on a girls team and potentially take away our scholarships,” Outcalt said.

That’s the same argument made in a full-page ad placed by the Child Protection League last Sunday in the Star Tribune.

Advocates for transgender athletes say those fears are baseless, and have never been a problem in the two dozen states with similar policies already in place. Minnesota will become the 33rd state to implement a policy for transgender high school athletes, according to high school league media specialist John Millea.

Elliott Kunerth, [noted] “Transphobia and a simple lack of education regarding the transgender community are not an excuse to discriminate against transgender players … Nor will they be valid excuses to treat someone differently. Whether or not a player happens to be transgender is no one else’s concern.”

Critics of the policy aren’t sure what their next step will be.

“There’s going to be some very unhappy people,” [one opponent of the policy said] “This was obviously a very controversial issue and some folks are going to be very, very upset about this.”

The policy will go into effect next school year, but religious schools will be exempt.

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