Middle schools in NHC to implement new transgender extracurricular policy

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 12:16 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Reaction continues after the marathon Board of Education meeting in New Hanover County last night.

Large crowds gathered with some groups advocating for Policy 3620, which now allows transgender middle school students to play on sports teams with the gender that they identify with.

The policy passed in a 5-2 vote with Hugh McManus and Pete Wildeboer casting the no votes.

During the meeting, Wildeboer said that there should be a procedure in place similar to the high school level.

“Putting a procedure in place would not bar transgender athletes from participation in athletics,” Wildeboer said during the board meeting. “Two: it would prepare the students for the protocol at the high school level that we have no option to change.”

Angie Kahney, who is a social worker and activist with NHC Educational Justice, said she works with families and kids who are a part of the LQBTQ community, and that this policy will give transgender kids a safety net.

“Knowing that our middle school kids — they don’t have to go before that invasive panel of four experts that would essentially tell them who they are,” Kahney said. “A lot of our middle school kids, some of them are not out yet. Even if they are it’s very — it’s a confusing time and so typically what’s happened is they just don’t play sports or take part in extracurricular activities, so this will give them some protections in place to be able to do that.”

Wildeboer also indicated that he thought this policy was being pushed through by the Title IX director, rather than the board itself.

“Please note that the topic was not brought forth by a board member, nor by the school system, nor by the state board of education group that we’re working with, but by Title IX director,” he said. “It makes sense to wait, even if our Title IX director wants an answer now. We need to do what’s best for our students and our faculties in New Hanover County Schools, not necessarily what one director thinks is best.”

Those in opposition to this policy say that allowing athletes assigned male at birth to participate in female sports puts girls at a disadvantage and takes away their athletic opportunity.

“Biological males are generally bigger, faster and stronger than biological females,” said one individual during the public comment portion of the board meeting. “Allowing males to compete in girls sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women.”

Board member Judy Justice does not believe that this will be an issue.

““This idea that somehow there’s going to be males that are going to infiltrate the female sports so that they can win. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” Justice said. “To me this is going to be one less painful experience that children really shouldn’t have to go through while they’re developing in life to become the adults they want to be.”

NHC Educational Justice reached out to the lowercase leaders for their support at the board meeting once they realized opposing groups would in attendance in large numbers.

“I will say it was instrumental that we were able to partner with the lowercase leaders. They’re entire leadership is made up of LGBTQ leaders,” said Kahney. “They have a huge presence.”

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