Permission required: transgender athletes need IHSA eligibility ruling to compete

Transgender Athletes
Transgender Athletes(Source: Pixabay via MGN)
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 11:47 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BLOOMINGTON (25News Now) - The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to allow transgender athletes to compete in gender-specific sports.

Before transgender athletes are allowed to compete, they must receive permission from IHSA, according to the updated policy approved this week by the organization’s board of directors.

When making the eligibility ruling, IHSA will consider whether the claimed gender identity is “bona fide” or for the purpose of gaining competitive advantage.

IHSA will also consider whether allowing eligibility would be “inconsistent with the concepts of fairness in competition or present a risk of injury to the participants.”

IHSA will review school records and medical documents in determining eligibility. Students can also provide statements from parents, school personnel and clergy to support their case.

IHSA’s executive director will make the rulings, which can then be appealed to the board. A panel of medical personnel will be formed to act in advisory role, according to the updated policy.

Illinois High School Association
Illinois High School Association(WGEM)

“The IHSA shall make its ruling based on the individual circumstances presented and not based on preconceived notions or assumptions. The IHSA will seek to minimize harm to students whose opportunity to participate on a team consistent with their gender identity would be limited or denied,” the updated policy said.

IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson released the following statement after the board approved the policy update:

“With the support and guidance of experts from Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the IHSA developed and enacted a Transgender Policy in 2011 that we believe is one of the most inclusive in the nation. The IHSA Policy has been adapted multiple times through the years as new guidance and best practices related to medical care and athletic participation in the transgender community have emerged. Today’s updates help to bring IHSA Policy 34 in closer alignment with the policy proposed by the United States Department of Education in April, 2023. This is a sensitive subject that creates a wide range of opinions and emotions. That was reflective in the extensive discussions the Board held on a variety of issues related to the topic. We believe the policy updates balance the interests of all involved in a manner which best serves all of our student-athletes and activity participants.”

Students and their parents have the option of keeping the process confidential. The updated policy states, “Only those individuals at the school and IHSA with a “need to know” shall be privy to the request for ruling.”