Accommodate Transgender Students in High School Sports


Target: Mark Beckman, Executive Director of the Montana High School Association

Goal: Implement progressive accommodations for transgender students in extracurricular activities.

The Montana High School Association (MHSA) proposed a proactive policy change for its 179 member schools whereby transgender student athletes would be able to participate in sports teams and events that conform to their gender identity. The association has since ditched the proposal due to a “lack of support” without even letting it come to an actual vote. Demand that the MHSA not give up on this vital policy change.

In what was initially billed as a “proactive [move] regarding emerging questions from some districts about transgender participation in extracurricular activities,” the MHSA planned to bring to a vote at its upcoming 2015 Annual Meeting a proposal that would allow transgender students to belong to sports teams that match their gender identity. This policy change would have been consistent with the policies of 33 other high school associations in other states and conformed Montana’s high schools with the rules of the NCAA and Title IX. Following some expressed concern from member high schools about having to share locker rooms and arguments that the matter should be decided on a local level, however, the MHSA has decided to abandon the proposal.

It is encouraging to see school associations voluntarily tackle these issues, but it is extremely disconcerting to see those efforts abandoned so easily. Sign the petition below to urge the MHSA to continue to push for this policy change.


Dear Executive Director Beckman,

I am writing you today regarding your Montana High School Association’s recent abandonment of the transgender sports participation policy change. I wanted to take the time to urge you not to abandon this effort so easily. This is a vital change that will make a difference in countless Montana students’ lives.

There is no legitimate reason to give up on this proposal. It would bring your schools up to snuff on federal regulations regarding sex-based discrimination, thereby blocking your schools from potential lawsuits. It would not mandate shared locker rooms, so expressed concerns about this from some of your member schools would not become an issue. It would allow transgender students who, likely, already face undue hardship for being themselves, have an opportunity to not be actively discriminated against among their peer groups. And, lastly, it would help foster a culture in the coming generation that would be more accepting of transgender individuals. What is supremely ironic, and downright tragic, though, is that it is likely the entrenched biases of older generations against transgender people, the very thing this proposal would mitigate in the coming generation, that will prevent this reform from taking place.

Make no mistake, this proposal is very likely a literal lifesaver. Transgender teenagers attempt and complete suicide at a higher rate than their cisgender colleagues. You, and all your member schools, owe it to them to pursue, and ultimately successfully enact, this policy change.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Zscout370 via Wikimedia Commons

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