Friday, December 5, 2014
Via The Guardian:
MINNEAPOLIS - In overwhelming vote Minnesota becomes 33rd state to adopt formal transgender policy, winning praise from governor, local Democrats and students.
In a Minnesota high-school administrative office on Thursday night, people carried signs that quoted the Bible on why “a woman must not wear men’s clothing”. Alongside them were people holding signs that said “God loves everyone regardless of gender identity”.
The crowd had filled the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) office for its vote on whether to accept a policy that would allow transgender students to join female school sports teams. After months of delay, 18 of 20 board members voted in favor of the policy, making Minnesota the 33rd state to adopt a formal transgender student policy.
The policy creates a protocol for determining whether someone who identifies as female but was born male can compete on female school teams. State law already permitted women to participate in men’s sports.
A succession of board meetings have been held over the past year to debate the policy. They have included testimony from transgender students and their family members as well as people opposed to the policy. Following Thursday’s vote, one person told board members they would be judged, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Elliot Kunerth, a 17-year-old transgender male, told the Pioneer Press the vote was a “huge victory”.
“The passing of this will change the lives of so many transgender people who are going through hell,” Kunerth said. “With the passing of this, I hope it will erase the ignorance and help people understand that trans kids are just looking for equal opportunities.”
Minnesota governor Mark Dayton and US representative Keith Ellison, both Democrats, praised the result of the vote. In a statement of support, Ellison rebuked those who opposed it.
“Too often when trans kids speak out, they’re told that they’re sick, or joking, or just plain wrong,” Ellison said. “Many of the people who opposed the MSHSL’s policy suggested that trans students might threaten other students’ safety. These depictions are bigoted and do not protect our students.”
To establish eligibility, students will have to produce written statements from their parents or guardians and health professionals affirming their gender identity. School activities directors will make final eligibility rulings.
Religiouslyaffiliated private schools are exempt from the policy, which will take effect in the 2015-2016 school year.