AUSTIN, Texas — School district superintendents in Texas recently voted to require student athletes to provide proof of their gender by submitting a copy of their birth certificate.
The new policy, passed by a 586-32 vote, ensures that boys do not play on girls’ teams and girls do not play on boys’ teams.
“Member schools may not permit boys to try out for or participate under the jr. high school or high school athletic plans designated for girls’ teams,” the policy reads, noting the same for girls. “Member schools that offer cross country, golf, swimming, tennis, track and field and/or wrestling individual athletic plans may not permit mixed plans for boys and girls.”
It also prohibits boys and girls from wrestling against each other.
“Gender shall be determined based on a student’s birth certificate,” the policy requires. “In cases where a student’s birth certificate is unavailable, other similar government document used for the purpose of identification may be substituted.”
“The background behind it, the reasoning behind it, is to just create a level playing field and to make sure that nobody gains an advantage,” Brad Thiessen, Athletic Director at Amarillo Independent School District, told KFDA-TV. “With that kept in mind, the birth certificate is the easiest way to determine gender.”
But transgender advocacy organizations have condemned the move, stating that it will require those who identify as transgender to obtain new birth certificates. The groups state that doing so is costly and takes time, and would deny some students “an equal opportunity.”
“At the high school level, we should be encouraging participation for all students,” Chris Mosier, the founder of TransAthlete.com, told the Associated Press. “Texas school leaders have a responsibility to ensure that transgender athletes can participate in a way that is safe, comfortable and affirming of their identity.”
But others are supportive of the requirement. Peter Sprigg, the Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, said that schools are right to separate the genders.
“Our position at FRC is that government entities, including schools, have no obligation to recognize a change in gender identity from the biological sex at birth,” he told the Baptist Press. “This is especially important when it comes to athletics because there are undeniable physical differences between the sexes.”
“From a Christian perspective, the Bible says several times ‘male and female He created them’ and this is a part of the created order,” Sprigg continued. “From a theological perspective, to seek to change one’s gender is a rebellion against God’s created order.”
He said that students who are struggling with their gender identity should be offered compassionate counseling to “help them overcome these feelings rather than simply indulging feelings that are contrary to nature.”
“Common sense is thrown out the window in our politically correct culture,” Steve McConkey of the Wisconsin-based 4 Winds Christian Athletics also said in a statement. “A 6’10” male basketball player who decides to play as a female has skeletal and muscular advantages that would take years to reverse by hormones. The P.C. advocates avoid this subject or give faulty research trying to prove their point.”
The new policy is expected to go into effect on Aug. 1.