Mass. school adopts gender inclusion rule for its teams

Mass. school adopts gender inclusion rule for its teams

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Mass. school adopts gender inclusion rule for its teams

A Massachusetts school is adopting a new policy that will allow students to play on sports teams, regardless of gender.

As WCVB-TV reports, under a new policy, students at Framingham (Mass.) High will be able to try out for the gender-specific sports teams on which they feel most comfortable.

Framingham athletic director Paul Spear told WCVB that students will also be able to choose the locker room where they dress and shower, and anyone uncomfortable will be able to do so in private.

“People who sincerely identify are not doing this so they can sneak into a bathroom,” Spear said.

Per what Spear told WCVB, students who cross over to another team will have to officially change their gender on school forms and that, as with any team, they will still have to make a team based on skill.  They also won’t be allowed to try out for another team in the same sport.

As WCVB notes, some sports at Framingham High and other schools across the country are already co-ed, such as field hockey and football. Under the new policy, players on those teams will be able to choose their uniform style.

Per WCVB, the school committee adopted the policy by a vote of 9-0. Thus far, administrators say complaints have been few.

Framingham has been at the forefront of enacting policy changes to fit a diverse student body. Per the Framingham Source, the new policy states that all students have the opportunity to participate in Framingham Public Schools athletics and/or co-curricular activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s records and without prior medical or mental health care.

“It’s about people,” Spear told the Source. “It’s about making people feel included, making people feel good about themselves, giving students the opportunity to excel in whatever their interests are and knowing that the school where they participate and perform has their back. It’s also about educating people, creating an atmosphere that’s safe for everybody and that this kind of support is part of the culture and the way we do things here in Framingham.”

The Source reports that the Framingham Inclusive Sports Participation Policy states, “Interscholastic athletic and co-curricular participation are valuable to students’ physical, intellectual, social, and/or character development and accordingly, we value inclusion. Guided by this value and in compliance with all applicable laws, our policy ensures that students can participate in athletics and co-curricular activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity.”

This policy is the first for Massachusetts, according to the Source.

“Creating safe and supportive environments is something I am passionate about, especially when those environments involve physical activity,” Julie Williams, Health and Physical Education Department Chair at Framingham High, told the Source. “When the idea of this policy was proposed, I looked into the model policy ‘All 50’ from the LGBT Sports Foundation. We started with that policy and customized it to fit for Framingham Public Schools. Chris Mosier from ‘You Can Play’ directed us to the model policy. We had input and support for a variety of sources which included parents and students. We are fortunate in Framingham to have Administration and a School Committee that understands and supports this work. What is great about this policy is that it follows the student-athletes off campus. The challenge will be to have other schools across the state adopt similar policies so that it becomes commonplace and a part of the culture of sports everywhere.”

It will be interesting to see if other schools across not just Mass., but the country, follow Framingham’s lead.

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Mass. school adopts gender inclusion rule for its teams
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