Proposed UIL rule would possibly bar transgender student-athletes

Posted on 21 Oct 2015 at 10:30am

MARATHON MEN  |  Getting teen athletes and their families to feel comfortable coming out on film was a challenge for documentarian Scott Bloom.A rule proposed by the statewide body overseeing high school sports voted to send member school district superintendents a rule that would identify a student’s gender based on their birth certificate.

The 32-member University Interscholastic League’s governing body’s voted to send the rule to superintendents instead of taking a vote to formalize the policy.

The rule states “gender shall be determined based on a student’s birth certificate. In cases where a student’s birth certificate is unavailable, other similar government documents used for the purpose of identification may be submitted.”

While a UIL spokeswoman told the Texas Tribune the rule has been informally applied in the past, Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center, said it looks problematic.

“On the surface this appears to go against the Department of Education’s application that gender identity is protected under sex discrimination Title IX,” he said.

Title IX is the federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in any federally funded education program. In 2014, the Department of Education extended the protections to transgender students.

Many states have passed laws allowing transgender student-athletes to play sports based on their identity.

McDonnell said he can’t recall the Dallas school district have any problems accommodating transgender students. But he is unsure specifically about transgender student-athletes.

According to UIL procedure, a majority of school district superintendents and the education commissioner must approve the referendum. A superintendent gets one vote for every high school in the district.

The decision comes down to whether or not superintendents will vote on each rule or as a package.

If it passes, McDonnell said, UIL would likely face lawsuits from LGBT advocacy groups.

“If UIL wants to see a lawsuit, [they will],” he said.

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