- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The group that governs Nebraska high school sports is drafting a policy on allowing transgender athletes to compete because there has been some interest in it.

The Nebraska School Activities Association’s board has asked staff members to draft rules for transgender athletes, the Omaha World-Herald reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/1F9ucAS ).

At least 38 other states have already adopted such policies, although they vary widely. The Nebraska School Activities Association had been waiting until there was clear demand for such a policy.

NSAA Executive Director Jim Tenopir said at least two transgender students have expressed interest in participating in winter sports this year.

Currently, transgender students in Nebraska can participate in sports only on a team that matches the gender on their birth certificate, not the gender they identify themselves as.

Jay Bellar, who leads NSAA’s board, said it’s too soon to know what Nebraska might allow. Two years ago, the board had some preliminary discussions about the topic, but tabled the issue.

“To tell you what we’re thinking right now is premature because we haven’t been that far yet,” said Bellar, who is the superintendent of the Battle Creek school district. “We want to do what’s best for everybody.”

Some states, such as Georgia and North Carolina, have adopted restrictions that require students to compete in sports that match with the gender on their birth certificate.

But several states, including neighboring Iowa, have more permissive rules that let transgender students participate in teams of a different gender if the student consistently identifies as a gender different from the one they were born as.

The ACLU of Nebraska has said that transgender students should have the opportunity to participate in sports and activities in public schools.

“Participation in extracurricular activities, including athletics, is often an important part of a student’s existence,” said Amy Miller with the ACLU of Nebraska. “It is clear that a school which does not allow transgender students to participate in athletics is in violation of Title IX.”

Tenopir said the NSAA will likely spend several months researching the issue before bringing a proposal back to the board, but a policy is likely needed at this point because of the potential for litigation.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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