Skip to main content

MSHSL mulls transgender athlete guidelines; critics express concerns

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Transgender students who want to compete in high school sports in Minnesota face some potentially awkward moments with their teammates and coaches, particularly in locker rooms and shower facilities.

The Minnesota State High School League, which governs athletic and other competitive activities in high schools across the state, is considering a new policy that would clarify how transgender athletes can participate while protecting their privacy.

People who are transgender identify with the opposite gender of their birth, and often undergo therapy to change their gender.

The high school league's proposal has some parents up in arms, KARE 11 reports. The draft policy would allow transgender athletes to play sports based on the gender they identify with, not their gender of birth. So, for example, a female athlete who identifies as a male could play on a boy's team and use the boys' locker room.

League officials say they don't know of any instances yet where a transgender student was not allowed to participate in athletics, but they want to provide clear guidelines for schools and coaches on how to handle such situations if they arise.

The Minnesota High School League board will discuss the proposal at a board workshop on Wednesday afternoon, and plan to vote on Thursday.

Update: On Twitter, MSHSL Media Specialist John Millea provided some clarifications regarding the guidelines, including the following.

In addition, Millea tweeted the following (over the course of multiple tweets):

"32 states have policy/guideline/recommendations re transgender high school athletes. Minnesota does not. ... Each #mshsl school, public or private, would make their own decisions re transgender students. ... Federal Office of Civil Rights has ruled that discrimination against transgender students violates Title IX. #mshsl. ... Transgender policy would provide structure around an issue that already exists. Would not be a bylaw, would not be part of #mshsl Handbook."

The Minnesota Child Protection League opposes the policy, saying it's concerned about the privacy rights of other students, and took out a full-page ad in the Sunday Star Tribune to make that case.

Michele Lentz, state coordinator of the Child Protection League, told MPR News the group's members are up in arms.

"They didn't know that this policy was being considered and they're appalled," she said.

Lentz said the policy protects the privacy rights of transgender athletes, but "the rights of all other students to even be informed in advance, so they can protect their own privacy, is absent," according to KARE 11.

The Child Protection League campaigned unsuccessfully against the state's new bullying law when it was being debated at the Legislature. The law went into effect at the beginning of this school year.

The director of the high school league says the group's ad misleads readers about what's actually in the proposed policy.

David Stead said the policy makes it clear that transgender students should have the opportunity to compete in sports and their privacy will be protected, he told MPR News.

According to the policy, transgender high school students can play on the team of their choice (male or female) but have to have documentation from a physician to identify themselves as transgender, and provide information about any treatment they're undergoing to change their gender.

The policy's section on facilities states that a transgender athlete should use the locker room, shower and toilet facilities for the student's gender identity, and that whenever possible, every locker room should have private areas for any athlete who would like to use them.

Next Up

Intersection in Rochester.

Boy dies in motorcycle crash in Rochester

Police are investigating as of Friday afternoon.

Tab2FileL (13)

Numerous severe storms likely in Minnesota Friday night

Watch the video for the full details with meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.

court room

Teen pleads guilty in shooting death of 15-year-old girl in Columbia Heights

Damico Jamal-Tokyo High will receive a sentence in juvenile court, along with an adult prison sentence.

Screen Shot 2022-04-25 at 11.00.01 AM

Walz wants to use surplus money to send direct payments to Minnesotans

It's a renewed effort from a previous proposal from Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan's supplemental budget in January.

Ron Johnson

Jan. 6 committee says aide for WI senator tried to give fake elector info to Pence

The attempt was discovered through text messages in the ongoing public hearing held by the Jan. 6 select committee.

Stock U of M sign

Minnesota state colleges boosting tuition again by 3.5%

The Minnesota State system's Board of Trustee's approved the increase Wednesday.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, June 24

The next daily update will be provided Monday, June 27.

Pro choice rally

Walz, Jensen react to historic Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade

After voting to overturn Roe, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas has hinted contraception and same-sex marriage protections should follow.

16362 County Rd 81, Maple Grove, Minnesota - October 2021 (4)

2-year-old killed in crash on County Road 81 in Maple Grove

The crash occurred Thursday evening on County Road 81.

police tape

BCA issues new details about St. Michael standoff, shooting

New details say a St. Cloud police officer struck the suspect with gunfire.

Screen Shot 2022-06-23 at 2.21.45 PM

92-year-old driver killed in rural Scott County crash

The crash happened around 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Screen Shot 2022-06-24 at 7.29.06 AM

Big-time rain totals flood Highway 10 in central Minnesota

More rain and storms are expected Friday and Saturday morning.