Utah college formally allows men on women's sports teams
- It's unclear how many institutions of higher education currently have transgender inclusion policies for athletes.
Westminster College out of Utah has announced that it will allow men who identify as women to play on female sports teams and use their locker rooms.
In an email obtained by Campus Reform, the school’s Title IX coordinator, Jason Schwartz, explains the new policy change, basing its reasoning on the Obama Administration’s recent Dear Colleague Letter.
“On May 13, 2016, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students,” he wrote. “Westminster College is committed to protecting the rights of all students, and the purpose of this message to inform you of the newly-affirmed rights of transgender students under the DCL.”
Among those “newly-affirmed rights” of students, he continues, are both “the right to access restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity” and “the right to participate in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity.”
Schwartz does note, though, that certain cases would require more discretion, such as instances in which it could be unsafe to play on a sports team of the opposite sex.
“In cases where selection for teams is competitive or when the activity involved is a contact sport, Westminster College will make tailored requirements based on sound, current, and research-based medical knowledge about the impact of an individual student’s participation on the competitive fairness or physical safety of the sport,” he explains.
Additionally, he touches on how the new policy will influence student housing options, stating that transgender students now “have the right to access housing consistent with their gender identity.”
Finally, he concludes with a sweeping declaration that for any “other sex-specific activities and rules” students “have the right to participate in school activities consistent with their gender identity.”
It’s unclear how common such policies are at colleges in the United States. A USA Today article last year polled 50 schools and found that only ten had instituted policies addressing the inclusion of transgender athletes.
Campus Reform reached out to Westminster for comment on the policy change and is currently awaiting a response.
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