HEMPFIELD, Pa. (WHTM) — The Hempfield School District board voted Monday in a 7-2 decision to go forward with a transgender athletics policy.
The board didn’t vote on a policy, per se. They voted to send a plan to the lawyers, directing the Independence Law Center, which has a reputation for opposing LGBTQ rights, and the district solicitor to use sex at birth as a determinant for students’ sports teams.
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Right now, students at the Hempfield School District can play on teams that match their gender identity. Some want it changed so that students can only play on teams that match the sex they were assigned at birth. Others are opposed to the change.
“This doesn’t make sense. Their rationale doesn’t make sense. This is really about marginalizing trans students,” said Jamie Beth Cohen, a Hempfield School District mom. “People are very upset about last night’s vote, as they should be. It’s a hateful vote, but it’s not the end of this story.”
Cohen says what the lawyers come back with may look different than what was voted on last night. “The policy the board has asked the lawyers to create looks like it is running afoul of Title IX,” Cohen said.
“The school board is playing politics with trans kids’ lives. This measure, if it is voted on the way it was voted on last night, will trigger lawsuits, will trigger potential loss of federal funding, and will put trans kids’ lives in danger,” she added.
abc27 reached out to the Hempfield school board, which said in a statement that they met with members of the LGBTQ community, medical experts, and mental health professionals and learned a great deal from those conversations. Board members said there are extraordinary circumstances that may justify exceptions to any policy.
Statewide bills that would prevent transgender female students from playing on female school sports teams are currently being considered in the Pennsylvania legislature, as well. Proponents of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act say it would make sports fairer for female athletes, while opponents of the legislation say it unnecessarily targets transgender individuals.