A North Carolina school board reversed a policy which allowed transgender athletes to play on sports teams according to their chosen gender identity.
At its Feb. 7 meeting, the New Hanover County Board of Education voted to amend the district’s policy affecting sports and gender, now requiring student athletes to play on teams according to the gender recorded on their birth certificate, reported local ABC affiliate WWAY TV3.
The meeting drew a huge crowd on both sides of the issue, far exceeding the building’s capacity of 170.
“The issue on the table is that Democrats want boys to have the option to take away sports opportunities from girls. I mean, it’s so ridiculous. It’s not even a thoughtful issue,” local resident Nevin Carr reportedly said.
Board member Josie Barnhart supported the proposal as necessary for fairness, recalling an experience she had coaching in a recreational volleyball league primarily for girls.
One year, her team allowed three biological males to play because there was no other team for them. The team dominated the league that season. Afterward, the decision was made to no longer allow the boys to play because it gave their team such an obvious competitive advantage.
“This is not an easy thing. This is not a religious thing. This is not a political thing. This is something that when we’re writing policy, we have to look at the fallout for the effects of our decision,” Barnhart said of the proposal. “What I fear is by allowing this, there’s at some point going to be a tipping point. We’re not going to know when it is, how many it’s going to be, but when it comes, we’re going to say ‘oh shoot what did we do?’”
A transgender student who spoke opposed the change, arguing the board should show more concern for transgender students.
“The fear you express for children is the fear I, a transgender student, face every single day,” Jett Tidd reportedly said. “I ask you, as an elected official, shouldn’t you have the same level of worry for all students? Are your children better or more important than students like me?”
Three board members who opposed the policy change attempted a few procedural moves to block a vote, postpone the vote or postpone implementation of the changes if the proposal passed. The attempts failed, and the policy change was approved 4-3, and it will go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year.
New Hanover County isn’t the first school system to make such changes. Frisco Independent School District in Texas and the Gardner Edgerton School Board in Kansas, for example, have made similar moves in the name of fairness.