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MSHSL Votes To Approve Policy For Transgender Athletes

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Minnesota high schools will have a new policy for transgender athletes in the 2015 – 2016 school year.

The policy allows "all" students to participate, regardless of their gender identity or expression.

The Minnesota State High School League passed the policy at a public meeting Thursday.

It will allow transgender boys to play on boys' teams and transgender girls' on girls teams.

WCCO's Kate Raddatz was there for the vote. She said there were strong reactions from both sides after the decision was made.

Immediately following the announcement that the policy had passed, there were loud cheers in the board room and even tears from some of the supporters.

But on the opposing side, several parents were angry and said they were afraid about how this will change sports for their children in Minnesota forever.

As chants echoed outside the Minnesota State High School League headquarters, transgender policy supporters celebrated a historic day in Minnesota sports.

"I'm very excited. I'm a little flustered just because I'm very happy about it," Nadia Spock, a graduate from Minneapolis South High School, said.

Eighteen of the 20 MSHSL board members voted 'yes' on the policy after hearing from nearly two dozen students and parents on both sides of the issue before a jam packed room.

"I believe that this board has acted with due diligence and has done its job," a board member said at the meeting.

George, 11, spoke about being transgender.

He called the policy "life changing."

"Even for transgender people that aren't athletic it just makes them feel good to know that they're accepted," George said.

Opponents expressed concerns about the physical competition of a transgender girl playing on a girls' team and locker room logistics.

"I don't want a guy coming in to play on the girls team so he can get a $100,000 scholarship because it's just unfair," a high school sophomore said.

"I have a 15-year-old daughter and there's no protection in this policy for her," Barry Nelson Hancock said.

Gov. Mark Dayton said he supported the board's decision.

"Some people in this state can spend their time on something that's that destructive to people's lives and misstate it in such a way it's really appalling," Dayton said.

The new policy will go into effect for the 2015-2016 school year.

Religious schools will be exempt.

The latest draft of the policy is on the Minnesota State High School League's website.

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