Monona Grove School District asks lawmakers to allow transgender athletes to play on teams they identify with

MADISON, Wis. — The Monona Grove School District Board of Education is hoping to change Republican lawmakers’ minds about banning transgender youth from playing on sports teams they identify with.

The board unanimously passed a resolution recently in support of all LGBTQ+ students that reaffirmed its values to allow all students to play on the team that matches their gender identity.

This came after several bills were introduced in Wisconsin by Republican lawmakers to only allow students to join teams that correspond with their biological sex assigned by a doctor at birth, unless the sport is classified as “coed”.

Monona Grove School board member and legislative liaison Susan Fox said, “This does not represent any change in policy or practice. It affirms existing policies and practices. Transgender youth are some of our most vulnerable students. They tend to face more rejection, bullying, more anxiety, depression, self harming suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It’s really troubling to see them targeted in this way.”

When the bills were introduced in March, Rep. Barb Dittrich said Governor Tony Evers would be “sexist” if he didn’t support the bills. At a press conference, Dittrich said, “Women’s achievements have once again been put at great risk of loss. It’s an issue of standing for women’s achievement, not cutting anyone out of participation.”

Evers tweeted: “My message to Wisconsin’s transgender kids and students today is simple: I see you. You are welcome, you are wanted, and you belong.”

“They have the same civil rights as other kids,” Fox said. “Not only is this our school’s policy, it’s also the policy of the WIAA, the NCAA, even the Olympics have allowed transgender athletes to participate, and, in fact affirmed their right to participate for several years.”

Fox said by allowing the transgender youth in the Monona Grove School District to play on the teams they want to play on, it wouldn’t impact very many people, however, she said, “The impact of transgender participation in sports is inconsequential for the vast majority of students, but it is very impactful for transgender youth.”

Monona Grove high school junior and president of MGHS Gay Straight Alliance Daniel Ratcliffe, 16, said the bill excludes people based off of gender identity and expression.

“It shows there isn’t a support system for trans people, excluding them and making them feel different just because of who they are,” Ratcliff said.

Many in support of the bill argue that biological males who transition into women are at a physical advantage. Ratcliff said at the end of the day, the transgender women are women as well. Fox said she hasn’t seen any scientific evidence that suggests the biological women cannot compete against transgender women.

“Transgender students participate in sports for the same reason that all kids participate in sports,” Fox said. “For the love of the game, for their friendships, to represent their school on a school team.”

Superintendent Dan Olson wrote in a statement to News 3 Now, “The Monona Grove School District is committed to diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice. Our commitment to maximizing the educational outcomes and creating inclusive and welcoming learning communities applies to each and every student, including our transgender and gender non-conforming youth. We celebrate self-affirmation, dignity, and equal rights for all.”

Director of Student Services Christa Foster wrote, “We have worked hard to support transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming youth in MGSD. We do this through the revision of policies and practices to prevent harassment and discrimination, as well as by training all of our student services staff on strategies to ensure that our transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming youth are afforded equal access and inclusive support throughout their school career.”

Fox plans to send the letter in support of transgender athletes soon in hopes that lawmakers will consider the Monona Grove School District’s plea.