- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The association that sets policies for Nebraska high school sports decided Friday against returning to a policy that said students could participate only on teams aligned with their birth gender.

The Nebraska School Activities Association’s Representative Assembly failed to get enough votes Friday at its Lincoln meeting to change the transgender policy adopted in January by the association board of directors. That policy requires transgender students who want to play on teams according to their expressed gender must show they’ve taken steps to change genders.

A group of parochial schools, supported by other religious and family groups, last fall proposed returning to the gender-at-birth policy. One of the groups, the Nebraska Family Alliance, criticized the association’s action and said “it will not be the final word on this issue.”

Friday’s vote was 23 for a return, 27 against, and one abstention. The policy needed the support of two-thirds of the assembly to be adopted.

The policy approved by the association directors in January has several provisions. It requires a student to show he or she has undergone hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery before being allowed to participate in a sport that’s inconsistent with the student’s gender at birth. The committee would be made up of an association staff member, a physician experienced in transgender health care, a psychiatrist or psychologist and an administrator from a school not involved in the student’s case.

The committee would rule on the student’s eligibility and a medical professional would have to verity the student’s “consistent gender identification and expression.” An appeal process is included.

The policy also says transgender students will have to use the restrooms according to their birth gender or be assigned private facilities.

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