The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) will vote on a policy Thursday to allow transgender high school athletes to participate in sports on the team that matches their affirmed gender. Having an inclusive policy would bring out the best qualities of sportsmanship in our youth — fairness, respect and a sense of shared community.

The Minnesota Child Protection League (CPL) is attempting to create a climate of fear surrounding transgender youth through another misleading and inflammatory advertisement in last Sunday's Star Tribune. But we must remember to focus on the principles of good sportsmanship and safety that are the foundation of the proposed policy.

Adopting this policy would benefit both transgender athletes and their teammates, who would have the opportunity to practice principles of respect, responsibility and fairness while working toward shared goals. And let's not forget the fun and the health benefits. We have a responsibility to show all of our children — not just those who are transgender — that we have the courage to stand up for safe, inclusive opportunities for every student athlete in Minnesota.

Awareness about transgender youth is growing, but visibility has not eliminated common misconceptions. The CPL warned that transgender girls would have an advantage over their teammates, a notion that has been debunked by many organizations, including the NCAA, which adopted an inclusive transgender policy in 2011. In the policy, Dr. Nick Gorton stated: "Transgender student-athletes fall within the spectrum of physical traits found in athletes of their transitioned gender, allowing them to compete fairly and equitably."

Transforming Families Minnesota is a support group and community for families with transgender children, with more than 100 members from Minnesota and neighboring states and growing. We come together as families, united to lift our children — and all children — up and show them that our differences can be our strengths. And what better place to model these values than on the playing field?

We write today as members of Transforming Families Minnesota and as mothers with children who happen to be transgender. We decided to step out of the shadows and share our experiences because we are not what the CPL wants you to believe. This is scary, because we are opening ourselves up to hate, fear and misconceptions. But it is important. Here's what must be understood: Our kids are just like yours. They have the same interests, joys and challenges. They enjoy dancing, playing video games and texting with friends. And they play sports. Just like your kids.

Unlike other kids, they also have the heartbreaking experience of seeing campaigns target them with the sole purpose of isolation and marginalization. No child should ever experience that. But we are working together to help Minnesotans understand that we share a positive goal: To raise happy, healthy, confident children who grow into caring adults. And we deeply believe that athletics has a central role in the healthy development of every child, every adolescent.

Support of the Minnesota State High School League and the proposed policy for transgender student athletes to play on teams that match their gender identity is an important step forward. Isolation is not the answer.

Martha Burton Santibáñez and Alison Yocom wrote this on behalf of Transforming Families Minnesota in Minneapolis.