Schools Should Make All Students Feel Included

Let us develop policies based on science rather than fear

By Wakefield Troy

Regarding HB 112, the debate over limiting transgender kids in sports needs to become a conversation of how we include kids who are unique, instead of how we can ban kids we do not understand.

  The argument to limit transgender kids is a reductive red herring based on a false threat that does not exist and implies we should be afraid of a few transgender children. These students are already marginalized and face multiple obstacles in the school environment. Transgender kids who choose to join sports likely just want to participate in a game they love and want to feel included in an activity that others take for granted.

  Testosterone levels apparently differ about 10 percent between men and women, but more testosterones do not alone equate to better performance. Many sports require diverse abilities, technical skill sets, and tactical knowledge that may take years to develop. According to Dr. Eric Vilain, advisor to the International Olympic Committee transgender policy, higher testosterone is associated with higher performance in a few track and field disciplines and minimal performance gains in other sports or disciplines. Let us not forget that different levels of development already exist in school sports. Currently some sports have young sixth-graders competing with eighth-graders in late puberty. On some teams young freshmen play alongside seniors. In some small towns, co-ed club teams are the only option. Girls have joined football and wrestling teams, and these cases have been accommodated and even welcomed or lauded as pioneering. And yet, we are worried about the possibility of a few transgender kids in sports.

  When most kids just want to feel included and have a semblance of normality, we are afraid of some advantage transgender kids may play with. This is clearly a complex issue that requires more thoughtfulness than the legislature and HB 112 are using now. Many organizations already have policies in place that make the playing field of competitive sports fair and inclusive. Let us look at those. The real conversation should be what can schools do to make all students feel safer and more included? So, let us develop policies based on science rather than fear.

Wakefield Troy
Columbia Falls

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