Public school district superintendents across Texas resoundingly approved an amendment that requires district officials use a student-athlete’s birth certificate to determine gender identification. The decision came much to the dismay of the founder of the group TransAthlete.com who sharply criticized the state’s decision.
The University Interscholastic League’s (UIL) referendum ballot put out to Texas school district superintendents in January resulted in a 586-32 vote in favor of the amendment, according to the Dallas Morning News. This rule goes into effect on August 1. The new rule, though, allows other similar government documents to be used for identification purposes if a birth certificate is unavailable.
Texas Education Agency (TEA) Director of Media Relations Debbie Ratcliffe told Breitbart Texas in an email that former Education Commissioner Michael Williams approved the amendment as part of an 11 rule packet in November, 2015. It did not require additional approval by Mike Morath, the state’s new education commissioner who took over the position at the beginning of this year.
The UIL is the state’s governing body for competitive public school athletics, music, and academic events. UIL policy director Jamey Harrison told the Dallas newspaper that the change codifies the advice the league already gives to superintendents which is to use birth certificates when questions about gender arise. “When we were asked by a school for guidance, that was the recommendation we gave them,” Harrison said, “although we told them to work through their own process and own legal counsel as well.”
Chris Mosier, founder of the transgender advocacy group TransAthlete.com, blogged in disagreement with how Texas superintendents recently voted, writing: “Texas is denying transgender youth the opportunity to connect with others, enjoy competitiveness and the benefits of physical activity, and have a high school experience similar to their peers.”
Mosier also commented that 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.”
Previously, critics called the measure a “horrible” policy” because they say it will force transgender student-athletes to amend their birth certificates to be able to participate in competitive public school sports, which the Morning News called a laborious and potentially costly process.
Previously, Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick reported the UIL put the question of “gender identity” out to Texas public school district superintendents. Harrison said the vote would not change the league’s current procedure in advising school districts to use birth certificates when those gender questions arose. At the time, Mosier objected to this policy, saying it would deny transgender athletes an “equal opportunity to sports.”
As Shadwick reported, the UIL has a “non-discrimination” policy that allows equal opportunity no matter disability, race, color, gender, religion, or national origin. There are some exceptions to that general policy. The University of Texas at Austin created the UIL to assist public school athletic and debate teachers. It operates as part of the university. The UIL started in 1910 and has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world.
TransAthlete.com lists Texas as one of one of seven states to require high school student-athletes to provide either a birth certificate, gender reassignment surgery documentation, or proof of hormone therapy. The other states are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, New Mexico and South Carolina. Fifteen other states (including California and Wyoming) plus Washington, D.C. allow student athletes to participate based on their “gender identity.” The website color-codes 14 additional states as “need modification” of their transgender student athlete school policies and shows another 13 states as having “no policy.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.