A South Dakota legislator introduced a bill this month that would require transgender high school athletes to participate on teams that reflect the gender of their birth certificate.
The bill by state Sen. Jim Bolin and Rep. Thomas Brunner – both Republicans – would overturn the current policy by the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) that allows high schoolers to participate on whichever team they choose.
The current policy means a boy who identifies as a girl can play on the girls' basketball team or run as a girl in track. In Connecticut, athletes who were born male have won state championships in girls track.
Bolin, a former high school athletic director, said the bill reflects fairness and common sense.
“I believe the activities association is a very good group, but I think they made a bad decision when they implemented this policy four, five years ago,” Bolin told the Argus Leader. “We have sports that are set up – boys go over 39-inch hurdles in 110 meters and girls have to clear 33-inch hurdles in 100-meter hurdles.
“We have a smaller ball for girls basketball than we do for boys basketball. If we're going to have these modifications, then my point is that the birth certificate should be the determining factor in which team you play on. It’s all about fair competition.”
Texas has a similar policy.
Dan Swartos, SDHSAA executive director, said he is concerned that if the bill becomes law it will result in a lawsuit. Letters from a medical professional, family, friends and the school are required for a student to participate as transgender, Swartos said.
“It's a small number of students, but we do have students who are participating with a transgender exemption and are participating as transgender students,” Swartos told KELO-TV.
Bolin believes SDHSAA made a mistake when it adopted its current policy.
“We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes,” he told KELO. “I believe the Activities Association, I've told them this personally, I believe they are a good organization, but I believe they made a serious error with the adoption of this policy.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Jonathan Chng/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.