NEW CASTLE, Pa. (KDKA) — The Laurel School District in New Castle has implemented a new gender policy, only allowing students with "XX chromosomes" to play on female sports teams.
The school board unanimously passed the resolution on Sept. 13, voting that transgender athletes cannot play on female sports teams.
According to the resolution, "The district shall not entertain, permit or otherwise allow or recognize an opponent who competes against a Laurel female athletic program hosted at a Laurel facility and has an athlete on their roster who does not have XX chromosomes."
"The Laurel School District believes that biological men have an athletic advantage on biological women. So, that's an issue of fairness. But in some of these incidents, we also believe that biological men playing in the women's division against women represent a threat to the health, safety and welfare of those competitors," said Len Rich, superintendent of the Laurel School District.
Rich said last year that an incident involving a transgender player at a volleyball game is one example of why only transgender students should not be allowed to play on female teams.
"A biological male returned a ball and it struck the female competitor, leaving her concussed and what understand still having comp complications from that injury," Rich said.
According to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association bylaws, if a student's gender is questioned, the decision comes down to the principal as to what gender will be accepted.
"The PIAA has said to the 500 school districts that, do what you want and oh, by the way, your principals are deciding, despite them having any lack of any medical training and what that may or may not imply, it is consistently inconsistent," Rich said.
Rich said that was part of the push to create the new policy and said he's hopeful other schools will follow suit.
"We're hoping that if we take this step that we come up with a universal standard and we preserve female competition for biological females," Rich said. "Our sports teams here at Laurel for all female sports teams, you must be a biological female. And we have gone further and said that in our house, on our facilities, we want the opposition to do the same thing."
KDKA-TV asked Rich what the Laurel School District will do if other schools don't comply with its policy.
"You're coming to our house. You're choosing not to follow our policy in our house, and so, we can either forfeit or we can play under protest. We will handle those on a one-by-one basis," Rich said.
Most residents KDKA-TV talked to on Friday agreed with the new policy.
"If you're born a boy, you should only be on that team. If you're born a girl, you should only be on that team. There's no question whatsoever," said Sharlene Moore, a New Castle resident. "My children were on the swim team and a boy is a boy and girl is a girl. Boys have larger lung capacity. They have different muscle structure. They have the capabilities of going faster, being able to endure more than what a girl can."
"There's too much danger. Let's say that, all right. Let's take the locker room out of it. Let's take bathrooms out of it. Let's just go full-blown danger," said Steve McGranahan, a New Castle resident and former sports coach.
KDKA-TV reached out to the PIAA and Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League for comment on Friday in regard to the district's new policy. We have not heard back yet.
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