CENTRAL ATHLETIC LEAGUE (CAL) GUIDELINES REGARDING GENDER EXPANSIVE & TRANSGENDER (GET) STUDENT PARTICIPATION – ENSURING EQUITY AND NONDISCRIMINATION
“School sport programs are integral parts of a well-rounded educational experience. The benefits of school sports participation include many positive effects on physical, social, and emotional well-being. All students, including those who are transgender, deserve access to these benefits.” – Dr. Pat Griffin and Helen J Carrol, On the Team (2010, p. 18)
The Central Athletic League (CAL) believes that participation in interscholastic athletics is a valuable part of the educational experience for all students. Specifically, the Central Athletic League (CAL) allows participation and equal opportunity for all students regardless of their gender identity or expression. Therefore, the purpose of these guidelines is to designate a set of criteria in which student athletes are able to compete on a level playing field in a safe, competitive and friendly environment, free of discrimination. Fundamental fairness, as well as most local, state and federal rules and regulations, requires schools to provide a gender expansive and transgender (GET) student with equal opportunities to participate in athletics. These guidelines create a framework for such participation.
- Definitions ……………………………………………………………………. ……..……Pages 1-3
- PIAA Policy on Equal Opportunities and Treatment……………………………………. Page 4
- Privacy & Confidentiality Statement (Identification Process/Guidelines)…… Pages 4-5
- Additional Guidelines………………………………………………………………………….. Pages 5-6
- Resources…………………………………………………………………………………………. Pages 7-10
- References………………………………………………………………………………………. Pages 10-11
Understanding the terminology associated with gender identity and expression is important in providing a safe and supportive environment for all individuals. These are the commonly used terms, though individuals may choose to use other terms. Terminology and language describing GET individuals can differ based on region, language, race, ethnicity, age, culture and many other factors. Language is ever evolving therefore new terminology comes forth on a regular basis. It is useful to inquire which terms and individual chooses to use.
Assigned *** at Birth – is the *** designation, usually “male” or “female,” assigned to a person at birth.
Biological *** – is the biological attributes such as anatomy, chromosomes, and hormones that inform whether a person is male, female, or intersex. Where *** refers to biology, gender refers to the cultural and social understandings that are layered on top of biology.
Cisgender – refers to people whose *** assignment at birth corresponds to their gender identity and expression.
Consistently Asserted Gender Identity – is a commitment to one’s gender identity asserted across multiple settings from the time when a person begins to live as the gender with which they identify rather than the gender they were assigned at birth.
Gender – is socially determined characteristics, roles, behaviors, and attributes a society expects from and considers appropriate for males and females; these characteristics are often referred to as “feminine” and “masculine.”
Gender Binary – is the socially constructed dichotomy that there are only two distinct, static, and opposite genders, female and male. This model is limiting and does not take into account gender expansive individuals. Gender non-binary, describes gender identity on a continuum and thereby accounts for the range of how individuals identify in regard to their gender.
Gender Expansive – is a term that conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender identity and/or gender expression than typically associated with the binary gender (male/female) system. Gender expansive often serves as an “umbrella term” for people who do not meet the “traditional” understandings of gender and who do not want their gender to be defined in a box. Gender expansive is not synonymous with transgender; not all gender expansive individuals identify as transgender.
Gender Expression – is the manner in which a person’s gender identity is communicated to others through appearance, behavior, or physical characteristics that may be in accord with, differ from one’s physical anatomy, chromosomal ***, or *** at birth.
Gender Fluid – is used by people who do not identify with a fixed gender in regard to time and/or identifiers. The focal point is that of dynamic rather than static gender expression and/or identity. For example, fluidity may be in regard to both time and labels: A gender fluid person may feel they are more female on some days/weeks/years, male on others, or possibly feel that neither term describes them at all.
Gender Identity – is a person’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a combination of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity may change over one’s lifetime, or it may remain the same throughout one’s life. It may be the same as the gender one was assigned at birth, or it may be a different gender. The responsibility for determining an individual’s gender identity rests with the individual.
Gender Nonconforming – is an umbrella term for people whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations of the *** they were assigned at birth.
Genderqueer – is an individual whose gender identity is outside of the traditional gender binary system of female and male. They may view themselves as both female and male, neither female nor male or as being outside these categories altogether. May also refer to people who do not follow traditional gender stereotypes and is also used by people who identity as both gender expansive / transgender and *****. It is worth noting that many people who use this term do not find the word “*****” to be a derogatory term as in the past, rather a word that has been reclaimed and embraced.
Gender Transition – is the process by which some people strive to more closely align their internal knowledge of gender with its outward appearance. Some people socially transition, whereby they might begin dressing, using names and pronouns and/or be socially recognized as another gender. Others may undergo physical transitions in which they modify their bodies through medical interventions. Not every transgender person wants to transition from male to female or from female to male and other people believe they fall somewhere in between such binary definitions of gender.
GET – is an acronym that stands for “gender expansive and transgender.”
Intersex – is a person born with *** characteristics such as genitals or chromosomes that do not fit the typical definitions of male or female.
LGBTQ – is an acronym that stands for “*******, ***, bisexual, transgender, and ***** or questioning.” Questioning incorporates those who are uncertain or fluid about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Sometimes an “I” for intersex and “A” for asexual are added to the acronym.
Name – (a person’s chosen name rather than “preferred name”) is the name a person chooses to use when referred to in conversation and/or on records.
Pronouns – (“pronouns” or “chosen pronouns” rather than “preferred pronouns”) refers to the pronoun a person chooses to have used when referred to in conversation. Please note that a person may choose to go by they, ze (a range of pronouns exist), or no pronouns. Using “preferred” to qualify someone’s pronouns suggests that terms they are claiming do not really belong to them — they are just preferred over their “true” pronouns. A person who is GET and uses “he” as a pronoun does not just prefer that word over “she” — that is the pronoun to use in reference to him. Rather than asking someone’s preferred pronouns, ask, “What pronouns do you use?”
***** – is a word used to describe people who transgress culturally imposed norms of heterosexuality and gender identity. Many individuals embrace the word today and use it as a more concise word rather than the acronym LGBTQ. Others do not use the word because of its previously derogatory connotation.
Questioning – is a term that may be used to describe someone who is unsure of or undecided about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Sexual Orientation – is a person’s emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to people of the other and/or same gender. Common terms used to describe sexual orientation include, but are not limited to, heterosexual, *******, ***, bisexual and *****. Sexual orientation and gender identity are different. GET students may identify as ***, *******, bisexual, or heterosexual. Sexual orientation is different from gender identity or gender expression.
Transgender – is a word used to describe a person whose *** assigned at birth does not correspond with their gender identity. A transgender person’s gender identity differs from their gender assigned at birth, and their gender expression consistently varies from stereotypical expectations and norms. A transgender person may want to live persistently by a gender that differs from that which was assigned at birth.
Transition – is the process in which a person goes from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another. Each transgender person has a unique process in which they go from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another. Gender transition can occur at any age. It begins internally then expands to external expression. This can include social, medical and/or a legal transition.
1. PENNSYLVANIA INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETIC ASSOSICATION (PIAA) POLICY ON EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND TREATMENT:
In the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Policies and Procedures, available at http://tinyurl.com/piaa1617, it states: The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc. (PIAA) is committed to the principles of equal opportunity and treatment for all individuals involved in interscholastic athletics. PIAA believes that all boys and girls, Coaches, Contest officials, and athletic administrators should have equal opportunity to participate in, Coach, officiate, and administer at all levels of interscholastic athletics and receive equal treatment, without regard to race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, or ethnic background. Alleged violations of this Equal Opportunity and Treatment Policy should be reported to the Executive Director, who will, either directly or through a designee, attempt to resolve the matter informally. Any person dissatisfied with the efforts of the Executive Director may seek relief from the District Committee having jurisdiction over the matter. Appeals of District Committee decisions may be taken to the Board of Directors.
GET POLICY: Where a student’s gender is questioned or uncertain, the decision of the Principal as to the student’s gender will be accepted by PIAA.
PIAA PHILOSOPHY: It is unconscionable that a school or any of its employees would subvert the high purposes of interscholastic athletics by condoning any violation of the rules. To involve boys or girls in any practice or procedure which “gets around the rules” is unworthy of a person associated with athletics.
PIAA POSITION REGARDING COMPETITION STANDARDS RELATIVE TO GIRLS PLAYING ON BOYS’ TEAMS OR BOYS PLAYING ON GIRLS’ TEAMS: Girls playing on boys’ Teams or boys playing on girls’ Teams are subject to the competition standards established by the Contest rules of that sport.
The CAL guidelines regarding GET students’ participation addresses only GET students and does not alter CAL and PIAA rules, regulations, and policy.
III. PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT:
To the extent provided by law, all discussions and documents at all levels of these guidelines, shall be kept private and confidential.
IDENTIFICATION PROCESS/GUIDLEINES FOR SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR AND ATHLETIC/ACTIVITY DIRECTOR:
The student and/or student’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s) shall contact the school administrator, or athletic/activity director at the high school the student attends notifying them that the student has a gender identity different than assigned at birth and as listed on the student’s school registration or birth certificate and that the student would like to participate in athletic activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
- In order to determine the gender identity of the student for athletic participation, the school administrator or athletic/activity director will review information including, but not limited to:
- A written statement from the student and/or student’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s) affirming the student’s gender identity and/or expression in which the student self-relates.
- The gender identity used for registration and school medical records (official and nonofficial school created records)
- Knowledge that a student persistently and consistently identifies with a particular gender.
- When the school administrator or athletic/activity director has reviewed all of the relevant information, the school administrator or athletic/activity director, acting within their scope of responsibility as assigned by the school board, shall make the determination about the gender of the student and shall make contact with schools in the league as needed while maintaining the privacy of the student. This is to ensure the safety and full inclusion of the student athlete at another league member school.
- Once the school administrator or athletic/activity director grants the student eligibility to participate in the sport consistent with the gender identity, the eligibility is granted for the duration of the student’s participation and does not need to be renewed every sport season or school year.
- ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR THE CENTRAL ATHLETIC LEAGUE (CAL) SCHOOLS REGARDING GET STUDENT ATHLETIC INCLUSION:
In addition to overall eligibility policy, we recommend that the following additional guidelines be adopted. These guidelines will assist schools, athletic departments, coaches, teams, and student athletes in creating an environment in which all student athletes are safe and fairly treated. For instance, have a plan in place to address the eligibility and necessary accommodation(s) for any GET student in your school. Also, consider the following:
Changing Areas, Toilets, Showers – GET student athletes should be able to use the locker rooms, shower, and toilet facilities in accordance with the student’s gender identity. Every locker room should have some private, enclosed changing areas, showers, and toilets for use by any athlete who desires them. When requested by any student athlete, schools should provide private, separate changing, showering, and toilet facilities for the student’s use, but GET students should not be required to use separate facilities.
Competition at another school – If a GET student athlete requires a particular accommodation to ensure access to appropriate changing, showering, or bathroom facilities, school leaders, athletic directors, and coaches, in consultation with the GET student athlete, should notify their counterparts at other schools prior to competitions to ensure that the student has access to facilities that are comfortable and safe. This notification should maintain the student’s privacy. Under no circumstances should a student athlete’s identity as a GET person be disclosed without the student’s express permission.
Overnight Trips/Hotel Rooms – For overnight field trips, GET students can communicate their preferred sleeping arrangement to their coach and/or a school administrator at least a month prior to the date of the overnight trip (if possible). As with other students, the school should try to pair the GET student with peers with whom the student feels comfortable. The District should make adjustments to prevent the student from being marginalized because of any alternative arrangements. Regardless of whether those roommates know about the student’s gender identity, the District has an obligation to maintain the student’s privacy and cannot disclose or require disclosure of the student to the other students or their parents.
Names – In all cases, teammates, coaches and all others in the school should refer to GET student athletes by a student’s chosen name.
Pronouns – Similarly, in all cases, pronoun references to GET student athletes should reflect the student’s gender and pronoun choices.
Dress Codes and Team Uniforms:
Dress Codes – GET student athletes should be permitted to dress consistently with their gender identities. As a matter of best practice, schools should evaluate the necessity of gendered dress codes and recognize that they tend to marginalize a range of students who may not feel comfortable with them. Dress codes for athletic teams when traveling or during a game day at school should be gender-neutral. Instead of requiring a girls’ or women’s team to wear dresses or skirts, for example, ask that team members wear dress clothes that are clean, neat, well cared for and appropriately “dressy” for representing their school and team.
Uniforms – All team members should have access to uniforms that are appropriate for their sport and that they feel comfortable wearing. No student should be required to wear a gendered uniform that conflicts with the student’s gender identity.
In School – All members of the school community should receive information and education about GET identities, school or district non-discrimination policies, the use of chosen names and pronouns, and expectations for creating a safe and supportive team and school climate for all students, including GET students.
Opposing Teams/Schools – Without violating a GET student’s confidentiality or privacy, school leaders, athletic directors, and coaches should communicate with their counterparts at other schools prior to competitions in which a GET student athlete is participating about expectations for treatment of GET student athletes on and off the field. This does not require “outing” or otherwise identifying a particular student athlete as GET, but rather establishing general expectations for the treatment of all student athletes, including those who may be GET.
These guidelines do not anticipate every situation that might occur with respect to gender expansive and transgender individuals. As set forth in greater detail herein, the needs of each gender expansive and transgender individual are unique and should be considered accordingly.
There are a number of excellent resources, but perhaps the most comprehensive is the publication On the Team: Equal Opportunities for Transgender Student Athletes (Griffin & Carroll). This 57 page document is available as a pdf. And can be found at:
GET Resource Guide that includes local and national resources
PA Youth Congress. A listing of school districts that have approved GET policies
An overview of the ideas in On the Team can be found in Dr. Griffin’s article “Developing Policies for Transgender students on High School Teams”, can be found at:
Information on the GLSEN Sports Project, including many “Safe Sports Space” resources, can be found at:
The NCAA policies for collegiate sports can be found in the publication NCAA Inclusion of Transgender Student Athletes, can be found at:
The Lower Merion School District Policy and Administrative Regulations, can be found at:
As the Athletic Director or Coach, How does gender expansive and transgender guidelines relate to my department and/or team?
Gender presents itself in many aspects of athletics, on and off the field. Even if you are not aware of a gender expansive or transgender student on your team/s, please keep the following suggestions and guidelines in mind.
Ensure that your athletes and their families are aware of existing policies.
When addressing a team, use language that is inclusive of all gender identities. For example, instead of boys, girls, gentlemen, or ladies, consider people, all, folks, champions, everyone, runners, etc.
Ensure that the dress code for game day or for travel is gender neutral. Instead of requiring your athletes to wear a tie or a dress, consider “spirit wear” or ask them to wear “dress clothes.”
When discussing GET student-athlete participation or when interacting with a GET student-athlete, use respectful language and terminology. If you are not sure, ask the student what name and pronouns they use.
Communicate to athletes, coaches and spectators that there is zero tolerance for discriminatory language or behavior, including name calling and taunting. Promote enthusiastic but respectful fan behavior at athletic events.
If you are aware of discriminatory or harassing behavior from opposing teams or spectators based on the perceived or actual gender identity or expression of a student-athlete, talk to the opposing coach and consult with your administration.
Use inclusive language that supports diverse families in all communications to and programs for families of athletes. For example, an email to athletes’ families could be addressed “Dear cross country families”.
At the beginning of a sport season, make clear your expectations of respect for diversity among all members of athletic teams, including GET coaches and athletes.
I am a Coach and I have a gender expansive or transgender student on my team. What can I do to support this student?
If you coach a gender expansive and/or transgender student who has disclosed their gender identity at school, here are some things to keep in mind.
Consider contacting the student’s school counselor if they have not already reached out to you to discuss how to best support the student. The school counselor may have information that will be helpful in making students feel safe and supported on your team.
Consider arranging a time to meet individually with the student to discuss how to best support that student. You may also want to include parents/guardians in the conversation, but be sure to discuss this with the student first.
Offer regular check-ins with the student; consider including some peers in the conversation chosen by the student.
Think of ways you can support the student during practices. For example, some gender expansive and transgender students (as well as many cisgender students) are uncomfortable when told to find a partner or pick small groups. Lessen this stress by assigning groups, even if just by counting off.
Be prepared to intervene on the GET student’s behalf in conversations with their peers, or with other school or athletic personnel, keeping in mind that that the student’s right to privacy is very important.
If your team will be using locker rooms at another school, contact that school before any away games/meets, providing enough time for accommodations to be made. This notification should maintain the student’s privacy. Under no circumstances should a student-athlete’s identity as a GET person be disclosed without the student’s express permission.
If your team participates in overnight trips related to competitions, gender expansive and transgender student-athletes generally should be assigned to share hotel rooms based on their gender identity, with a recognition that any student who needs extra privacy should be accommodated whenever possible. Please consult with the students’ school counselor if this situation arises.
If the student plans to pursue athletics at the college level, ensure that they are aware of the NCAA guidelines for transgender students. The NCAA policies for collegiate sports can be found in the publication NCAA Inclusion of Transgender Student Athletes at:
If a student discloses their gender identity to you, share the many supports and protections provided for that student in your school and encourage that student to meet with their school counselor. Remember, however, that the student’s right to privacy is very important and if a student’s gender identity has not been explicitly disclosed in the school environment, we cannot discuss a student’s gender identity without consent.
SAMPLE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR CORRESPONDENCE:
Sample email for athletic director to send to all athletic directors in Central Athletic League regarding a GET student athlete.
To: Athletic Director (Central League Schools or if State Competition – appropriate recipients)
Subject: Gender Expansive and Transgender (GET) Student Athlete
The ________________ School District is committed to providing a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students and employees. The District is also dedicated to ensuring that every student has equal access to the District’s educational programs and activities. Specifically, we want to make sure our gender expansive and transgender (GET) students are provided with equal opportunity and access to programs, services, and activities, including athletic participation.
Please be aware that ___________ School District adopted a policy that supports gender expansive and transgender students.
The policy can be found at _____________________.
The administrative regulation can be found at ____________________.
We may reach out to you during the sports seasons to accommodate the needs of our students concerning access to gender neutral bathrooms and locker facilities.
Please distribute this information to the coaches of your school or districts athletic teams.
There is a useful “Safe Sports Space” climate checklist from GLSEN, found at http://tinyurl.com/GLSENchecklist, that we at ______________ School District found helpful in assessing our programs and facilities. If you have any questions about these items or our policy please feel free to contact me.
SAMPLE COACH CORRESPONDENCE:
Sample email for a coach to send to other coaches in Central Athletic League regarding a gender expansive/transgender student athlete. Remember that a gender expansive and transgender student has a right to privacy, and we should not disclose a student’s gender identity to others without explicit permission. If you have a gender expansive and transgender student athlete on your team please consult with their school counselor before contacting other schools.
To: Coach (opposing team)
Subject: Need for facilities for a GET student athlete
The _____________ School District is committed to providing a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students and employees. The District is also dedicated to ensuring that every student has equal access to the District’s educational programs and activities. This policy ensures that gender expansive and transgender students are provided with equal opportunity and access to programs, services, and activities, including athletic participation.
Please be aware that _____________ School District adopted a policy that supports gender expansive and transgender students.
The policy can be found at ______________________.
The administrative regulation can be found at _________________________.
In light of the above, I am reaching out to you and your school to assist one of our student athletes. In the interest of maintaining their right to confidentiality and privacy, I am requesting that a gender neutral changing area and restroom be made available.
I look forward to traveling to your school and the upcoming competition.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
GLSEN (2013). The Experiences of LGBT Students in School Athletics (Research Brief). New York: GLSEN.
GLSEN (2013). Game Plan for Coaches: Making Your Team Safe for *******, ***, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Athletes
GLSEN (2017). Transgender Inclusion in High School Athletics. Policy Brief.
GLSEN (2018). Trans Inclusion in High School Athletics.
A Guide For Coaches and Athletic Personnel in Lower Merion School District, 2016.
A Guide For School Principals in Lower Merion School District, 2016.
Gender Expansive and Transgender Students – Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination Policy 259, Lower Merion School District, 2016.
Guidelines for Creating Policies Transgender Children in Recreational Sports, (2009).
On the Team: Equal Opportunities for Transgender Student-Athletes. (2010). Pat Griffin and Helen Carroll. National Center for ******* Rights and Women’s Sports Foundation.
Minnesota State High School League Policy Regarding Participation of Transgender Students.
“All 50”: The Transgender –Inclusive High School Sports and Activities Policy and Education Project, (May, 2016). LGBT Sports Foundation.