Maryland school leaves conference because of league’s transgender policy

A Maryland school has accelerated its departure from its home high school athletic conference due to that league’s transgender policy, sparking a sharp debate.

As reported by the Washington Post, Grace Brethren Christian School, which educates students from prekindergarten all the way through high school, announced it was departing the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference (PVAC). And it made clear that the reason it was departing was the league’s stance on allowing transgender athletes to compete alongside other students.

Here’s more from the Post:

George Hornickel, Grace Brethren’s school director, wrote in an email that the “transgender issue” is what pushed up the move, citing the school’s Christian principles. He added: “[Schools] that allow boys to play on girls’ teams is a form of cheating [and] it gives them an advantage over girls teams who only play female athletes.”

“We are a Christian school and hold to the biblical teaching from Genesis 1:27 and other related passages which states, ‘So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them,’” Hornickel wrote. “This is how it has been throughout the history of the world, and we believe there are only two sexes: male and female.”

While Hornickel and Grace Brethren may take issue with the PVAC’s stance — they also cited concerns about Title IX and transgender athletes taking places from genetic female athletes — it’s clear the conference has little intention of backtracking on its policy. The PVAC has reportedly held meetings among athletic directors about its transgender athlete policy since 2016, leading to an update of its rules in February which redefined a prior regulation that held, “an athlete may only participate on a team of the same gender.”

Now, that rule is far more inclusive:

“The PVAC is committed to the safety of, and respect for, all participants. Every student-athlete should have the opportunity to participate in PVAC activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity. The PVAC and its member schools will rely on the gender determination listed by the student’s school in consultation with the student-athlete and will not make separate gender identity determinations.”

“It is a value for our league to make sure we are [respectful] of our athletes, that we know about it and that the league is proactive about it,” PVAC President Taisto Saloma, who also serves as the AD at the Washington Waldorf School, told the Post. “We are just trying to make it clear and make it as easy as possible and also a way for the league to state that this is important to us.”

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