The above full-page ad was run on the back of the Sunday sports section in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday. According to reports, it’s from a coalition of religious right and Tea Party activists who regularly oppose legislation meant to protect vulnerable communities. When they fought anti-bullying legislation, it was under the pretense of government intrusion in schools.
But this worse, way worse.
With an image of a shower and a rhetorical question about a boy showering with “your 14-year old daughter,” they go on to mischaracterize the rule that is being considered by the Minnesota State High School Athletic League. (You can read the draft policy here.)
States around the country are addressing the issue of transgendered high school athletes because the federal government updated Title IX to clarify that civil rights applies to all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. So, like many states, the high school league is going to tell schools that they need to make private accommodations for trans* students whenever possible — and when it’s not possible the trans* student should be allowed to dress and shower with the gender with whom they identify.
As opposed to the bigots, let’s look at this from the perspective of the high school league. They are attempting to update their policies in ways that are humane and sensitive to all students, and they’re doing so in a politically charged climate. Both the morality and the understanding of sexuality has changed quickly and dramatically in our society in just a couple decades. Bureaucratic organizations like the MSHSL are not set up to make snap decisions, so they they been deliberate about this, and they’ve followed the policies of other states (like North Dakota, not exactly a bastion of liberalism).
But more significantly, let’s talk about the trans* teens. Firstly, somewhere between 2 and 5% of the U.S. population experiences some kind of gender dysphoria, and within that number are those who are trans*. [The Star Tribune reports that 0.3% of the American population is trans*.] That means that most trans* kids are going to be alone in their high school class — maybe in their whole school, depending on the size.
Think how hard it is for a trans* teen to even survive high school, much less to go out for a sport. The MSHSL is to be commended for developing a policy that will attempt to protect these vulnerable kids at a very vulnerable time in their lives.
Where is the church on this issue? The Minnesota Catholic Conference is against it, and I haven’t been able to find any religious leader in Minnesota speaking in favor. Well, I don’t have a church or a pulpit, just this little ol’ blog, but let me state clearly and directly: I support the MHSHL’s draft policy for taking a step to protect and respect trans* teens in our state.
UPDATE: The Star Tribune has published an article on this.