“We just want to double down on our expectations,” Miguel A. Cardona, the education secretary, told the New York Times. “Students cannot be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.”
The Impact of Exclusion
Statistics show that what “we need to do, as the adults in the room, is allow people the same opportunities and the same treatment as everyone else. And when we do that, everyone does better,” says Biancheri.
Research from the Center for American Progress (CAP) emphasizes that transgender students who are denied the opportunity to play a sport experience lower self-esteem, a lesser sense of school belonging, and higher rates of school absenteeism.
Additionally, the lack of acceptance and affirmation increases mental health risks. The Trevor Project conducted a survey in and found that 28 percent of transgender youth whose pronouns were not affirmed attempted suicide in the past year. That number decreased to 12 percent for those whose pronouns are affirmed by all or most people in their lives.
When transgender students are in welcoming and accepting environments, these negative visit site outcomes can begin to reverse and change for the better. And, when transgender students are openly allowed to participate in sports, they experience a greater feeling of school belonging and pro-school behaviors and outcomes reports GLSEN.
Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., have long held trans-inclusive state athletic association guidance, and participation by transgender students in these areas has produced no evidence of alleged harm to cisgender athletes, according to CAP.
What the Guidance Says
Despite the long-standing benefits to trans students when they’re allowed to play on sports teams, some lawmakers continue to push polices that prevent them from fully participating in school activities-and they use fear to fan the flames, according to Whitney Weddell, a social studies teacher of 32 years in Kern County, California.
“Fear is a big seller,” she says, “and what is disturbing is this myth that is prevalent that somehow a guy, assigned male cisgender, could pretend to be female, walk on to an Olympic playing field, and clobber the women. That’s not what happens given the policies that are in place.”
Weddell identifies as cisgender (a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth) lesbian and has been an LGBTQ+ advocate for the past 39 years, and counting, and shares how these policies are set in place to ensure the playing field is fair toward all athletes.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which governs college sports, has well-defined policy on transgender athletes: trans female athletes must complete one year of testosterone suppression treatment before competing as a women; trans men cannot compete with women once they start taking testosterone. Same holds true for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which allows trans women athletes to compete only if their testosterone levels remain below a certain level for at least a year. Trans men face no restrictions.
Eric Vilain is a pediatrician and geneticist at National Children’s Hospital in Washington, D. He recently told NPR that “there are no good faith reasons to limit transgender women’s participation in sports, especially at the high school level.”
Vilain debunked one of the main myths surrounding this debate that trans girls and women have an advantage in performance. He says, “that is not the case.”
Schools have become an important place to ensure racial, ethnic, gender, and all other manner of diversity is fully represented and celebrated.
“This is why we need the Equality Act,” says Weddell. “It’s why we need educators who are willing to be brave. NEA and its state chapters have been instrumental in protecting educators. …We are protected so we can speak [and] can ensure we stand on the side of right.”