(LA Blade) In a 6-2 vote Tuesday evening, the Hempfield School District’s board approved a policy limiting transgender student athletic participation on sports teams aligning with their sex at birth.

This move by the school board makes it the first Pennsylvania school district to effectively ban trans youth athletes from playing on teams that align with their gender identity.

The local news media outlet Lancaster Online reported that Hempfield’s new rule may attract court challenges that will determine if such a policy can withstand legal and constitutional scrutiny. However, in a statement attributed to the full school board, President Grant Keener said Hempfield is “confident in the legality of the policy.”

Izzy Smith-Wade-El the President of the Lancaster City Council, who is running for the state House and is backed by the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, reacted to the board vote via a press release from his campaign Wednesday:

Last night, after months of community organizing to fight for every student to enjoy their public school experience no matter how they look, Hempfield School District approved a policy to discriminate against trans students and prohibit them from playing sports. The school board took legal advice from a Christian extremist law firm in its deliberations and will face lawsuits from the ACLU, among others.

“Public schools are a public good, and public goods are for every single child, no matter how they look, where they live, or how they pray” said Smith-Wade-El. “Our students deserve an education, both work and play, regardless of who they are. Religious and far-right extremists push policies that authorize invasive and embarrassing discrimination to distract us from pursuing our shared vision: Full school funding, excellently funded and staffed special education programs, recreation, safe affordable housing, accessible childcare, and thriving families. These are the things that make a child’s education better, and the things that matter to working people.

“Policies that target and bully children are part of a national strategy to turn working families against one another, using vulnerable young people as props in a game. I am humbled and encouraged by all the community members who have organized to protect trans kids for months, and who will stay in this fight until every child is celebrated and welcomed as they are. When we are great, it is because we can make space for all people in pursuing our vision for our community.”


 SFGN and the Los Angeles Blade are media partners.


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