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Published on April 22, 2024
OSAA Upholds Inclusive Policy Amid Republican Critique Over Transgender Student-Athlete's PerformanceSource: Google Street View

The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) has reaffirmed its commitment to let transgender girls compete in high school girls' sports teams, brushing off criticism from Republican legislators. This clash comes after a transgender student-athlete placed in the top ranks at a girls' track event, sparking controversy and political pushback.

In a letter to the OSAA, 12 Republican lawmakers called for the organization to alter its inclusive policy, questioning the fairness towards biological females in sports. The association, however, has stood firm on its decision, backed by state law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, which now includes gender identity. The OSAA stated that its policy works to provide that sexual orientation is defined as including gender identity, according to NBC16.

OSAA's executive director Peter Weber responded, saying the agency's policies are aligned with the state legislature and the Oregon Department of Education's non-discriminatory stance. “The OSAA, under the guidance of our member schools, creates and implements policies that comply with federal and state laws, including laws that are intended to keep our students safe and free from discrimination,” Weber noted in a statement obtained by OPB. Amidst the debate, OSAA has discussed safety measures for future events with the transgender student's school.

Following her participation in last Saturday's Sherwood Need for Speed Classic, the unnamed transgender athlete became the lightning rod of the issue, especially after her performances in the 200-meter, 400-meter, and relay events were amplified by right-wing social media. Despite not winning any gold medals, she stirred a media frenzy, as reported by OregonLive. The legislators insisted on an explanation from OSAA, concerned about the sanctity of girls' sports, but the association rejected the demand to expunge the records held by transgender athletes.

Meanwhile, an Oregon LGBTQ+ organization has castigated the Republican lawmakers for what they deem reckless behavior by naming the trans student. In the face of such legislative threats, OSAA and the Oregon Department of Education remain steadfast supporters of gender identity policies in education. These instances stand in contrast to movements in other states seeking to ban trans students from sports reflecting their gender identity.