NSAA: Individual schools can deal with transgender policy at local level
By Jan Rahn
The Nebraska School Activities Association has been dealing with a stir concerning a policy that would allow transgender students to play sports on any team they identify with.
The issue of gender identity and adoption of school policy was addressed late last year at an NSAA district meeting in Norfolk.
In 2012 NSAA board members had discussed a policy relating to transgender issues with regard to sporting events. It was reported that a policy was put in place, however, NSAA says there is no policy in place. A “model policy” was posted on the NSAA website but was not passed by a vote and was taken down. The posting, however, went viral, which led to public concern, causing the NSAA to sort it out.
Articles in the North Platte Telegraph, the Norfolk Daily News and the McCook Gazette explained the NSAA’s position on dealing with the controversial issue that involves Nebraska schools, parents and students.
A representative of the NSAA board said the issues dealing with sexuality need to be addressed at the local level of each individual school.
NSAA executive director Rhonda Blanford-Green said that since July, NSAA has sent a consistent message that this is a local issue and districts should consult with legal advisors to make sure they are not doing anything discriminatory.
An NSAA district meeting in Norfolk mid-November was attended by about 80 people, with six in attendance speaking in opposition to the idea of a policy that would grant special allowances for transgendered students to use the facilities of the gender with which they identify.
A similar meeting of the Nebraska School Athletic Association in McCook was attended by nearly 30 concerned citizens and parents who voiced their objections about an athletic transgender policy.
The McCook Gazette reported on the meeting in which NSAA District 5 Director Alan Garey, Medicine Valley Public School superintendent in Curtis, addressed citizens who spoke against the policy. Garey explained that the NSAA has no transgender policy. He told the public that the model policy which was posted on the NSAA website did not pass and was taken down. Garey agrees that any sexual identity issues that might arise should be handled by the student’s individual school and its legal council.
Perkins County Schools Superintendent Bill Hakonson concurs. Hakonson said PCS would rely on legal council in terms of adopting and following a board policy.
“If we had a situation, we’d talk to them [legal council] and do the right thing ethically and legally.”
Hakonson said there is currently a non-discrimination policy in effect. If a transgender issue arose, he said he feels confident it would be worked out.
“I just know we’d try to make it work for everybody and deal with it, and have our legal people advise us,” said Hakonson. “Our board is sensitive to kids—they like kids.”