- Can transgender students play in competitive athletics in North Carolina?
Yes. The NCHSAA allows participation in interscholastic athletics for all students, regardless of gender or gender identification. It is the intent that all students are able to compete on a level playing field in a safe, competitive and friendly environment, free of discrimination. Rules and regulations are intended to provide every student-athlete with equal opportunities to participate in athletics.
- Why was a Gender Identity Policy enacted?
The NCHSAA regularly reviews all its policies. Prior to enacting the Gender Identity Policy, the NCHSAA engaged in a lengthy process of reviewing policies from other states, speaking with experts in the field, and seeking input from various stakeholders. This policy aligns the NCHSAA with other state athletic associations across the country while promoting the NCHSAA’s mission of inclusive sports participation in North Carolina.
- Is North Carolina the only state with gender identity policies?
No. North Carolina is one of the numerous states to permit students to compete consistent with their gender identity. Many recreational-sports’ organizations have adopted inclusive eligibility policies. Some states and recreational organizations have been implementing their respective policies for over a decade. For information regarding policies in other states and organizations, please visit www.transathlete.com.
- What is the process for determining whether a student is eligible to try-out and participate, based on gender identity?
As outlined in detail in the actual policy, the member school will submit a Gender Identity Request Form on behalf of the student, prior to playing on a team consistent with their gender identity. The Request should be based on the gender identification of that student through daily life activities in the school and community. Additional documentation may be included, such as a list of medications, written documentation by an appropriate health care profession, etc. (Please review the policy for complete details.)
The NCHSAA Staff will refer to the Gender Identity Request to the NCHSAA Gender Identity Committee for consideration and determination of the student’s eligibility. The Committee will approve the Request if it finds that the student genuinely identifies as the gender indicated in the Request. The NCHSAA Staff will notify the school of the committee’s determination.
- Who serves on the Gender Identity Committee?
At least one person representing the following areas will serve on the Committee:
- A current member of the NCHSAA Board of Directors
- An LEA or school administrator
- A physician with experience in gender identity health care and/or World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH Standard of Care
- A psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed mental health professional familiar with the WPATH
- Is an athlete’s gender identity confidential?
Yes. The Committee will respect and promote the student’s privacy and confidentiality rights under HIPPA and FERPA in the process of considering a Gender Identity Request. Information provided to the Committee will be shared only to the extent necessary to decide the Gender Identity Request; provided that, if a Gender Identity Request is approved, the student’s school may need to share the student’s gender identity with other schools as necessary, to ensure appropriate accommodations and safety when competing at another school.
Likewise, athletic department personnel, coaches, and players should never disclose a student’s gender status without express consent from the student and parents to share that information, except in the event of an emergency when that information is relevant to protecting the health and well-being of the student.
- Can eligibility based on gender identity be challenged?
In very rare circumstances. Once a student is deemed eligible relative to gender identity, the student’s eligibility continues throughout their high-school career, provided the student meets the other criteria for eligibility (e.g. academics). Another school/team may challenge that determination if it has credible information that the student falsified documentation to seek eligibility under this policy. The ability to challenge a student’s eligibility does not set aside FERPA and/or HIPPA Laws. The NCHSAA may penalize a team or player who challenges the eligibility of any athlete for the purpose of harassing or intimidating that player, team, or school.
- What about competitive fairness?
Competitive fairness in interscholastic athletics is central to the mission of the NCHSAA. The policy seeks to provide appropriate opportunities with competitive fairness while creating a safe, fair, and inclusive environment for all student-athletes.
- Are there safety concerns?
The required safety equipment and rules for each sport are designed to protect all players and anticipate that players will have a wide range of athletic attributes and abilities. If you have a concern about a specific sport or specific player, please contact your school administrators.
- Does this policy apply to restrooms, locker rooms, and overnight accommodations?
The NCHSAA gender identity policy does not address these areas specifically. However, according to the Bylaws of the NCHSAA, it is the responsibility of each member school to have in place measures that ensure the safety and protection of the well-being of all participants. This policy includes having restroom facilities available for spectators and participants; providing areas for teams to dress for competition; and being compliant with the American Disabilities Act. Further, each member school is responsible for observing all other state and federal laws.
- Can the team uniform be adjusted or changed?
Any uniform modifications must be consistent with NFHS rules governing the particular sport or with approval from the NFHS/NCHSAA; additionally, any modification must be appropriate for the sport, cannot increase the risk of injury, and cannot provide the athlete with a competitive advantage.
- What do I do if I have a transgender athlete on my team?
All student-athletes are to be treated with dignity and respect. Administrators, coaches, and other athletic-department personnel should take proactive steps to foster an inclusive team dynamic for all student-athletes.