Proposed policy for transgender students - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Proposed policy for transgender students

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The South Dakota High School Activities Association had its first reading Wednesday for a policy on transgender students.

The policy would allow students to participate in activities according to their identified gender, not necessarily the gender listed on their records.

Recently, a South Dakota transgender student was interested in competing in interscholastic activities. James Weaver with the South Dakota High School Activities Association told KSFY that at the time there was no transgender policy in place. Instead, the student ended up participating in fine arts, since there is no gender separation.

It was then that the association decided it was time to start researching policies in place around the country.

What the South Dakota High School Activities Association is proposing is one way of making sure all students feel included -- no matter their gender identity.

Although there haven't been any instances of transgender students in South Dakota who have tried out for gender-based activities, the association wants to be proactive -- rather than reactive.
"So we just felt in order for us to be a proactive state, we need to also form a policy because we do know we have a number of transgender students in a number of schools out of our state and we feel that it's important to be able to have a policy to follow prior to them wanting to participate in interscholastic activities," said Weaver.

So what about safety concerns? Randy Marso, the Brandon Valley athletic director says all student athletes should know what they're getting into when they're getting into when they try out for a sport.

"So yeah, I think there probably are some safety issues but again you have 90 pound football players that are male playing so a 90 pound female transgender student -- I think you would allow that," said Marso.

Is it fair play?
"I think you really have to see it and give it some time before I make any determination on whether its fair or unfair, whether there are advantages or disadvantages," said Marso.

A sign of the times, yes. 20 years, discussion for a policy on this topic would have been non-existent. And as with any new policy, there will be critics.
"You have to keep personal feelings out and you have to make decisions that are legally sound and that's what school districts have to do," said Marso.

The proposal states there would be a gender identity eligibility committee that will make the final determination on whether a student in truly a transgender student or not -- and whether they can participate in activities where there's a gender differentiation in competition.
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