Thursday, July 9, 2015

High School Sports And Gender Identity- Which Team Can I Play On?

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Is your son or daughter transgender, identifying as the opposite sex?  Do they play sports?  Which team do they play on: the teams of their physical gender (for example, female for female teams or male for male teams) or consistent with their gender identity?  Per the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the governing body for California high school sports, they might be able to pick either team.

Per the 2015-2016 CIF Bylaws, "Guidelines for Gender Identity Participation," hereinafter "Guidelines" [scroll down to the "Policies" section in the link]:

"All students should have the opportunity to participate in CIF activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student's records.  The student and/or the student's school may seek review of the student's eligibility for participation in interscholastic athletics in the gender that does not match the gender assigned to him or her at birth."

The process for playing sports as one's gender identity, is roughly as follows (see "Guidelines" linked above for exact specifics):

Initial Filing: 
1)  The student and/or their parents contact the school administration or the athletic director regarding the fact the student has "a consistent gender identity different than the gender listed on the student's school registration records" and that they want to use that gender to participate in sports.
2)  A school administrator is to then contact the CIF where a "facilitator" for the "CIF Gender Identity eligibility appeal process" will be assigned.
3)  The student must then attend an appeal hearing in front of a 3 person panel, the Gender Identity Eligibility Committee (GIEC), to be scheduled no later than 5 school business days before the first sports event in the relevant sport (exceptions apply).
4)  One person on the panel must be a physician or psychiatrist with experience in gender identity health care and familiar with the "World Professional Association for Transgender Health" (WPATH) care standards.

Appeal of GIEC decision: 
1)  If the student is dissatisfied with the GIEC results, they may appeal to the Executive Director of the CIF.
2) Such appeal must be filed no later than ten school business days after the student receives the written decision of the GIEC.
3)  The appeal is to be scheduled with at least five school business days notice.

Described in the policy is the fact that certain documentation should be provided to the GIEC for the panel to make a determination, including school transcript, registration information and documents showing "student's consistent gender identification." These are basically described as sworn statements from the student, parents, and/or health care providers.

As with any hearing, it is always important to PROVE the important points so success is achieved.  It is much better to win on the lower level than to have to go through an appeal, so being incomplete or light on documentation is inadvisable.

The CIF policy also mentions facilitating the provision of training and resources for schools regarding gender identity, which may be helpful to ensure a smooth transition.

Best,
Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228 

Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
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Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.