Maine became the fourth state to approve a program that allows transgender high school student-athletes to play for sports teams that match their gender identity.
The Maine Principals’ Association last week approved a new policy allowing transgender athletes to play for high school sports teams that match their gender identity.
Schools and educators have the responsibility to be advocates for all students.
“We were aware that other states had passed policies, and we were contacted by a couple of transgender students asking if we would review our policies,” MPA executive director Dick Durost told Associations Now. “Our management committee asked staff to prepare a draft policy. They recommended adoption to our member schools, and those schools voted overwhelmingly to support the draft.”
Durost said that reaction to the policy has been “mixed” but that it was proposed because “the time is right to do the right thing.”
Maine joins Colorado, Vermont, and Washington as states with transgender high school student-athlete guidelines, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.
Under the new policy, a student or the student’s parent or guardian can contact the school “notifying the school that the student has a consistent gender identity different than the gender of the student’s birth-assigned gender.” The school will then contact the MPA to set up a confidential meeting with the Gender Identity Equity Committee. All discussions and documents involved in the “eligibility determination process” will be kept confidential, unless the athlete or the athlete’s parent or guardian request otherwise.
The new policy earned praise from LGBT group EqualityMaine. Speaking to the Bangor Daily News, Betsy Smith, executive director of the association, called the MPA’s work “thoughtful” and said the decision would “make participating in athletic programs safe and open to more Maine students.”
The only thing that hasn’t been determined is what locker room the transgender athlete would use, according to a Maine television news report.
“Schools and educators have the responsibility to be advocates for all students,” says Durost. “We have no idea whether one student or 100 students will request a hearing.”