Let me tell you the story of a close friend named Audrey.
Since she was young, Audrey loved everything about volleyball. In seventh grade, she was the only girl unable to serve overhand, but she told her coach: “I’m going to play Division I volleyball.” Her coach’s reply? “You’d better get to work.” The words lit a fire in Audrey, and she never looked back.
She practiced for hours on end, even breaking a garage door while developing that stubborn overhand serve. Come freshman year, she lifted weights and conditioned every day at 6 a.m. with the seniors.
With her family’s support, her hard work paid off. During her freshman year, she earned varsity playing time. And she did indeed go on to play Division I volleyball.
The Minnesota State High School League, in coordination with OutFront Minnesota (Minnesota’s largest LGBT advocacy organization), is working to change the experience of high school athletics in a way that could severely alter the stories of kids like Audrey.
The league and OutFront have been crafting a policy that would allow transgender students to compete on teams opposite their biological sex — and, as a likely (if not certain) byproduct, also use the locker rooms and hotel rooms opposite their biological sex.
Can you imagine being Audrey’s parent? All those hours driving and helping your daughter hone her natural skill; seeing her earn varsity playing time as a freshman — only to watch years of hard work and a chance at that Division I dream fall flat if a boy (who identifies as female) trumped her for her spot on the varsity team? What if that boy won an athletic award for girls — an award that could have been Audrey’s? How do you stand for that as a parent, let alone find words to comfort your daughter?
This is the reality of the policy we face, a policy the Star Tribune Editorial Board described as “wise” and “the fair thing to do” (“Transgender kids have rights, too,” Oct. 2).
Indulge me for a moment by setting aside the political correctness demanded when discussing LGBT issues, and let’s agree that this proposed policy is anything but wise or fair in its impact on all student-athletes.
Why is the LGBT agenda driving even what happens in high school sports? Right now, transgender students have the same opportunity to participate in sports as every other student — and they should. This proposed policy, however, would grant them rights above and beyond every other student, by allowing them to participate on the team they choose based upon their “deeply felt internal sense of being male or female” — regardless of how this impacts other students’ privacy rights and religious freedom rights, and right to a fair playing field.
Even the NCAA, frequently cited by the league’s director as a guiding example for transgender athletic participation, recognizes inherent competitive inequality. For example, males not undergoing testosterone suppression cannot play on a female team without classifying it as a “mixed team,” ineligible for a women’s NCAA championship.
Surely, such an unprecedented policy in this state would come with guaranteed privacy protections for non-transgender students? Sadly, no. All four drafts of this policy fail to ensure privacy protections for non-transgender students. Does the league really believe that drivers of the LGBT agenda will stand for transgender students receiving access to a team opposite their biological sex, but not receiving the right to use the locker rooms and hotel rooms with their teams?
Finally, private religious schools must be exempted from this policy, right? Absolutely not. The policy is silent with regard to the religious freedom rights of even private schools.
The world of high school athletics deals with physical realities — with real students, dreams and scholarship opportunities. Student-athletes and their parents put a lot on the line in order to participate, and it is incumbent upon the league to ensure fair play and equal protections for all.
The league has provided this type of competitive atmosphere since the early 1900s. Will it continue to do so now so that Minnesota can celebrate the hard work and success of more student-athletes like Audrey? Or will it bow to the pressure of one LGBT advocacy group insisting that certain students receive special “rights” based upon how they “deeply feel” about themselves?
Autumn Leva is director of policy and communication for the Minnesota Family Council.