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MSHSL set to review transgender policy as debate over guidelines reignites

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The debate over a proposed Minnesota State High School League transgender policy is heating up again as the board of directors is set to review it later this week.

The proposal had not drawn much public attention until a full-page ad paid for by Mankato-based Child Protection League showed up in the Star Tribune earlier this fall. Since the debate became public, the MSHSL has heard testimony from dozens of people and received thousands of emails regarding the policy.

And on Sunday, the Child Protection League ran another full-page ad. MPR News notes the ad is "intended to hit parents where it really hurts — the pocketbook."

Bluestem Prairie, a Minnesota blog, looked at the social media reaction to the ad, specifically the use of the stock photo used. People on Twitter pointed out it was also used for a book about a young lesbian.

Another group that opposes the policy published a piece saying if the author had chosen to participate in women's athletics, he would have broken almost every record in the book, adding that wouldn't be fair to young female athletes.

There was also a letter published in the Austin Daily Herald urging parents to contact the board and voice their concerns about the policy.

On the other hand, advocates, like OutFront Minnesota, say the transgender policy is needed, as it supports transgender students and treats them fairly.

“We all know that youth who are engaged in extracurricular activities do better in employment and community,” OutFront Associate Director of trans organizing Roxanne Anderson told the Morrison County Record. “They are validated; that always feels good.”

This policy would be a first for Minnesota, but 32 other states and the NCAA all have some type of policy or procedure for determining transgender students’ eligibility to participate in sports, reports say.

The draft of the proposed guidelines would allow student athletes to play for the team that matches the gender they identify with, so long as they have documentation from a physician that identifies them as transgender, and provide information about any treatment they're undergoing to change their identity.

The MSHSL was scheduled to vote on the policy in October, but it decided to hold off until its December meeting so board members could have more time to study the policy to make sure they get it right.

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