HEMPFIELD, Pa. (WHTM) — The Hempfield School District became the first in the Midstate to ban transgender girls from playing girls sports.
Tuesday night, board members voted six to two in favor of the new policy requiring student-athletes to play on teams according to the gender they were assigned at birth. It was expected but still upsetting to many in the community.
For many kids, playing sports means more than medals and scholarships.
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“It’s not about acheiving something great. It’s about playing. It’s about wanting to play,” said Ollie Wenditz, a transgender student in the district.
The Hempfield school board just cemented a new policy that President Grant Keener says protects women’s sports.
“This policy simply aligns athletic participation with biological sex,” Keener said.
Ollie, a rising eighth-grader, thinks it’s discriminatory.
“I am so disgusted and hurt,” Wenditz said.
Ollie says it doesn’t just affect transgender girls, but transgender boys too.
“It discriminates against me and I would not be my true self and feel like my true self if I am not able to be on the boy’s team,” Wenditz said.
abc27 asked Keener if he knew how many transgender students are in the district.
“I do not,” Keener said.
But he says this issue started a year and a half ago.
“One transgender female was competing, and that caused significant concern among the student’s teammates among members of the community among some members of the faculty and staff,” Keener said.
The meeting drew protestors from within the community and neighboring ones as well.
“Saying that they’re protecting women, by excluding trans women, is saying that they’re only protecting some women from other women,” said Anthony Ranous.
“To the extent that people feel like this is some sort of attack on the LGBTQ community, it is not. That’s not just about athletic participation, and the integrity of female athletics, and nothing more,” Keener said.
abc27 asked Keener if he’s worried about being sued over this policy. He says that’s a possibility, but also believes the district might have been sued if it didn’t take action on the issue.