Alarmed that transgender high school student-athletes might shower and use bathrooms with their biologically opposite gender, residents protested at meetings around Nebraska in November. A policy by the Nebraska School Activities Association set forth a process by which transgender students and their parents could ask to join teams of the opposite biological gender.
If they could prove their gender identity with expert testimony from hormonal experts and psychologists, they could switch teams, according the policy.
Five other state activities associations have a similar policy in place.
Stirred to action, nearly 100 Nebraska residents went to six district meetings of the NSAA. At one time, each district was scheduled to consider a policy.
Mark Bonkiewicz, who heads the protest group Nebraskans for Founders’ Values, said alarm spread across the state in May, when the New York Timesreported Nebraska already had a transgender locker room policy in place.
State officials later retracted what was apparently a tentative policy that was published by NSAA Executive Director Rhonda Blanford-Green.
Blanford-Green put the policy on the NSAA board website a year ago after the board discussed it. After the policy became widely know, it was removed, according to a report in August in theLincoln Journal Star .
Blanford-Green told the Journal Star that the policy would instead go through though the association’s normal legislative process and be considered in November and possibly in January, if it got that far.
Blanford-Green is a former University of Nebraska All-American in track and field and two-time U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier, the Journal Star reported. She is also a former associate commissioner of the Colorado High School Activities Association, which became one of the first two state associations in the country to adopt policies establishing the rights of transgender student-athletes to switch teams.
On Nov. 25, Bonkiewicz said nearly 100 residents went to the NSAA board meetings on Nov. 6 and Nov. 13.
Despite Blanford-Green’s prediction, the policy did not make it on to the November agenda.
Bonkiewicz said his group thought it was possible that the item would be on the agenda.
“We contacted many people across Nebraska who were shocked, embarrassed and appalled at what Blanford-Green and the NSAA have said and done, without any significant input from schools or parents or citizens,” Bonkiewicz said in a statewide news release.
“Nebraskans did pay attention,” Bonkiewicz said. “They called, they emailed and they came to voice their concerns.”
According to the meeting minutes, five people spoke to the NSAA district II board in Boys Town on Nov. 6. Likewise, six people spoke a week later at the district III meeting in Norfolk.
People were allowed 5 minutes apiece to speak and 30 minutes was allotted for public comments, Bonkiewicz said. He said about 60 people turned out in McCook, and 3-6 spoke. There is no reference to that on the sketchy minutes that are published on the NSAA website.
Bonkiewicz said the NSAA board should officially “rectify the false information that went nationwide” and take disciplinary action the “employee(s) who posted false information on the NSAA website” that led to the New York Times report.
This report was first published in the Bulletin's Dec. 4 print edition.