A Pennsylvania school district decided this week that student-athletes must play on teams corresponding to their biological sex.
The school board for Central Buck School District just north of Philadelphia passed a new policy on Tuesday barring trans-identifying students from playing on a team of the opposite sex.
The board passed the policy in a 6-3 vote during a spirited school board meeting where residents spoke both for and against the new policy.
“The rights of women and girls to play sports — it gives them the opportunity for scholarships and other accolades and it keeps them safe,” one speaker said during the board meeting.
Another speaker argued that trans-identifying children would “miss out on this important childhood experience” if they were told they could not play on a team of the opposite sex.
The vote comes just days after Democrats flipped the school board in last week’s elections, but they do not take control until December. The Republican 6-3 majority will become a Democratic 6-3 majority next month.
The Central Buck district has embraced several other conservative policies this year, including barring school staff from using trans-identifying students’ new names and preferred pronouns without parental permission.
The district also directed counselors to separate elementary students by biological sex for classes about puberty. It also banned Pride flags in classrooms and prohibited teachers from engaging in “advocacy activities.”
In February, dozens of school board directors from across Pennsylvania signed a letter condemning the Central Bucks district for its new policies and accusing the Republican school board majority of “fostering intolerance” and “target[ing]” LGBT students “for political purposes.”
The new Democratic majority is reportedly still considering what changes to make when it takes over the Central Bucks school board.
Last month, another school district just west of Central Buck, Perkiomen Valley School District, voted during a heated school board meeting that students must use the school bathroom corresponding to their biological sex.
Perkiomen Valley’s decision came after about 400 high school students staged a walkout against biological boys using the girls bathrooms. Students held signs reading, “Respect girls’ rights” and “Stay in your bathroom.”
In Ohio earlier this month, students protested trans-identifying male students in the girls bathrooms as well. Dozens of students walked out of Elida High School just outside Lima, one freshman girl saying there had been “multiple accounts” of boys coming in the bathroom and “bothering the girls.”
Transgender identities at public schools have become a hot-button issue in recent years.
More than 18,000 schools across the country have rules saying school staff can or should hide a student’s gender identity from parents, according to a list compiled by Parents Defending Education, a nonprofit that describes itself as “a national grassroots organization working to reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas.”
Meanwhile, it is more popular than ever for youth to adopt new gender identities. An estimated 300,000 minors aged 13 to 17 identified as transgender as of last year.