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MSHSL Postpones Decision On Policy For Transgender Athletes

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota State High School League voted to postpone making a decision on the league's proposed policy about transgender students who want to play on athletic teams.

As WCCO's Bill Hudson reported, the board wanted the currently written policy to move forward, but also to refine it before it becomes fully implemented. Some board members favored tabling the decision, saying they felt "uncomfortable" enacting the policy as written.

A motion to table the decision until their Dec. 4 meeting was approved, as was a motion to form a committee to further discuss the policy.

The new guidelines would allow boys to be allowed on girls teams, and vice versa, if they can show they've undergone a medical treatment, like hormone therapy or surgery.

The guidelines have become controversial in recent days, especially after one group bought a newspaper ad this week in the Star Tribune reading: "A male wants to shower beside your 14-year-old daughter. Are you OK with that?"

On Wednesday, people representing both sides of the issue spoke at a public hearing in Brooklyn Center. There weren't nearly enough seats for everybody who wanted a voice on the issue, many of whom seemed to be against new guidelines.

"Our anatomy is what it is. It isn't what we would like it to be. And what we feel on any given day is not necessarily true," retired educator Norene Shephard said.

"It's my job as a parent, not the school or this board, to educate my children on matters of sexuality. And I would like to have that right not taken away from me," parent Renee Carlson said.

If passed, the new guidelines would apply to all 500 of its member high schools, both public and private. The guidelines lay out the rules on discrimination and offer school administrators a list of things to consider if faced with this situation.

They do not mandate how schools would handle situations such as locker rooms and changing facilities.

"My name is Melissa Thompson and I am here as a mother of two student athletes to offer my full support of this proposed policy. And to let transgender youth in our community know that my family believes they deserve to be respected and protected just like anybody else," parent Melissa Thompson said.

"I was assigned female at birth but do not identify as female. My love for basketball last year made me believe I could handle being on the wrong team. That was wrong. Constantly being mis-gendered and called the wrong name took away my soul. I already feel like I don't have my body, now I am soulless." student Zeam Porter said.

The MSHSL says they're simply trying to provide guidance, not law. Already, 32 other states have adopted similar transgender student athlete policies.

If the policy is passed, the decision would be left up to the individual school administrators following these guidelines. But if the student is unhappy with the decision, he or she has a chance to appeal.

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