As parents and children get ready for a new school year, they may be surprised at what is waiting for them.  Earlier this summer, MFI learned of efforts by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and the Transgender Political Coalition to change public school athletic policy.  Without no input from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association or public debate, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education implemented a radical transgender policy for student athletes across the Commonwealth.  We alerted members of the legislature about the issue, and they are now calling on the Commissioner of the BESE to publically answer some tough questions.  Read more from our friends at the Coalition for Marriage and Family below:

Will boys be allowed to compete on girls sports teams?
Or share locker rooms?

Armed with recently revealed regulations and assistance from the Coalition for Marriage and Family and the Massachusetts Family Institute, last week thirty-eight legislators signed a letter to Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester raising questions about regulations written relative to the Transgender Law that took effect in July. The legislators are inquiring into whether the Patrick administrations regulations will allow boys who “gender identify” as girls to compete on girls sports teams. The legislators believe that the regulations may be outside of the scope of the Transgender law passed in November of 2011.

Click Here to read the Letter from the Legislators

The watered-down version of the Bathroom Bill took effect July 1st, and it alters the non-discrimination laws to include “gender identity” as a class of individual that cannot be discriminated against in employment and in public schools. The full ramifications of the social experiment being conducted in our schools remains to be seen, but with these new regulations, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has made it clear that it intends to push the envelope. The legislators believe the department has gone well outside the boundaries established by the current law, as organizations like the Coalition warned government would.

To comply with the watered-down Bathroom Bill, the DESE amended their Access to Equal Educational Opportunity regulations (603 CMR 26.00). One of the amendments states,  “A student shall have the opportunity to participate on the team that is consistent with the student’s  gender identity.” As the Legislators point out, “this appears to allow anatomical males to play on girls’ high school sports teams and vice versa….[I]f the gender identity law gives students access to single-sex athletic teams based on their gender identity, does it also give them access to single-sex restrooms and locker-rooms?”

Their concern is rightly placed. In essence, gender identity is defined as that gender-identity that he or she sincerely believes he or she is. So at any time a boy or a girl can gender identify as a girl or a boy, respectively. There are no criteria in the regulations to determine how sincere a boy is who gender-identifies as a girl, and no guidance as to who (coaches, administration) makes that determination.

The legislators note that the National Collegiate Athletic Association has clearly defined rules for when a transgendered individual is allowed to play on the intended single-sex team, in contrast to the administration’s regulations. As the Legislators point out, “Because of the physical disparities between males and females, regardless of gender identity, this policy appears to put females as a distinct disadvantage when competing for positions on varsity athletic teams.”

School committees are also beginning to take notice of the new regulations and speak out. Please contact your school committee members to let them know of this dramatic change, and to share your concerns about these regulations. If any of your school committee members are interested in joining with the legislators in sharing their concerns with the Commissioner and the Department of Education, please contact us and let us know, so we can work with them and equip them with further information about the policy. Thank you.