Key High School Sports Organization Won’t Adopt Youngkin’s New Anti-Transgender Policies

Photo by Nigel Msipa on Unsplash

By Emily Richardson

July 27, 2023

Gov. Glenn Youngkin is promoting new model policies that critics say trample the rights of transgender students, but the organization overseeing Virginia’s high school sports is so far refusing to use the new policies to marginalize and exclude trans kids.

The Virginia High School League, the main organization overseeing sports for 315 high schools in Virginia, has no immediate plans to change its regulations regarding the participation of transgender athletes in sports in light of Youngkin’s new model policies.

Youngkin’s new policies say students should participate in athletics consistent with their biological sex, rather than their gender identity, and school divisions “shall provide reasonable modifications to this policy only to the extent required by the law.” 

VHSL Executive Director John “Billy” Haun told Virginia school leaders that he recommends the league’s existing policies not be changed. Under the current policies, transgender athletes may participate on teams that match their gender identity under certain conditions: if they transitioned before puberty, have medical documentation verifying that their gender is different from what’s listed on their birth certificate, or if they have had hormonal therapy long enough to “minimize gender-related advantages in sports competition.” 

Those students are eligible to apply for a waiver, involving extensive documentation and signatures from their school’s principal and a parent. Each waiver application is reviewed by a committee and an associate director, who rule on the appeal. It’s a case-by-case basis, and since that policy was enacted in 2014, only 38 trans athletes have filed appeals with 34 being granted, according to the VHSL.

VHSL says they will respect individual school divisions’ decisions and will continue to review this matter as they move forward.

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