The Minnesota State High School League made some changes Wednesday to a proposal that would set guidelines for transgender student-athletes in high school sports after tabling the plan earlier this year.
The board made the adjustments at two meetings ahead of a vote scheduled for Thursday, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1rYsp5j ) reported. The plan spells out how schools should handle transgender students in sports and what documentation those athletes would need to define their gender, such as proof of hormone therapy or surgery.
A version made public for the first time at Thursday's meetings would have essentially made the policy optional for school districts. That idea drew strong concerns about inconsistent approaches among districts and whether efforts might be made to oust school board members based on their views on the issue.
"I have great trepidation in seeing this played out at the local school board level," State High School League board member Deb Pauly said.
In response, board members debated the idea of putting the criteria for transgender student eligibility into the league's appeal process. That change seemed to ease some concerns, but other modifications were made that will not be in writing until the board meets Thursday.
Another change made public Wednesday would exempt religious schools from having to comply with the policy.
Before the workshop, a league subcommittee heard additional testimony from about a dozen speakers, including some groups that have lobbied strongly for or against the proposal. More testimony is expected at Thursday's board meeting.
The issue exploded into public view two months ago, when the league held a similar workshop that drew an overflow crowd of about 150 people and included 28 public speakers. The outcry came after board members received an estimated 10,000 emails on the subject.
Before the board tabled the proposal in October, supporters said the policy would affirm transgender athletes by sending a message that the high school league recognizes their challenges and aims to provide a positive experience. Opponents criticized the proposal as too vague, saying it violated legal requirements and failed to provide options for non-transgender athletes.