Manhattan School Board District Passes Measure on Transgender Athlete Ban


Despite strong community opposition, Manhattan’s largest neighborhood school board district approved a resolution Wednesday night that could result in a ban on transgender athletes participating in girls’ sports.

Community Education Council District 2, which spans Manhattan from the Lower East Side to the Upper East Side, passed the contentious resolution 8-3, requiring the city’s Department of Education to conduct a public review of its policy allowing transgender girls to participate in female sports.

The vote came at the end of an acrimonious meeting in midtown Manhattan that included City Council members, district parents, and “Umbrella Academy” star Elliot Page, who transitioned in 2020 and is a major supporter of trans youngsters.

Speakers at the meeting largely criticized the resolution.

Jared Danker, a gay DOE employee, and District 2 parent claimed the resolution would “marginalize and discriminate against a group of students who need our affirmation and support.”

Erik Bottcher, a member of the New York City Council who spoke on behalf of himself and three other state politicians, also denounced the resolution. “We are horrified that you are drafting a resolution aimed at transgender girls and sports. “It is shocking that such a regressive and harmful resolution is being proposed in a school district in the heart of Manhattan.”

The resolution is essentially symbolic, serving only as a request to DOE brass to conduct a review of the existing policy that the department already supports.

According to the proposal, some CEC D2 members desire community input on criteria implemented in 2019 by NYC’s Public School Athletic League that enable transgender participation.

The purpose of resolution 248 is to evaluate the DOE’s recommendations and include parental input in decision-making. CEC D2 members also seek clarity, claiming that they do not understand how the initial decision was taken.

Maud Maron, a CEC member and one of the resolution’s proponents, disputed claims that the idea is transphobic, claiming that it will stimulate a discussion about who is allowed to play girls’ sports.

“If we have a proper and real conversation, one of the outcomes could be that nothing changes and that we all discover that these guidelines are just perfect as they are,” Maron said.

Manhattan School Board District Passes Measure on Transgender Athlete Ban (1)

“But another one of the possibilities is that we realize that the excluded voices had something really important to offer and they should have been heard in the beginning.”

While the proposal does not directly prohibit transgender participation in girls’ sports, Maron advocated for such limits when she ran for Congress as a Democrat last year.

“At New York City Public Schools, all students have the right to have their gender, gender identity, and gender expression recognized and respected,” the DOE stated in a statement issued Wednesday. “In our schools, every student can participate in sports and competitive athletics by their gender identity, and we prohibit any exclusion of students based on their gender identity or expression.”

CEC councilmember Gavin Healy questioned why 2019 rules are being reviewed five years later.

“If you want to force students to prove their biological sex to participate in a sport, you are asking an invasive, a deeply intimate question about someone that they should not have to answer,” he went on to say.

“And what comes next, the bathroom, or health care? It’s placing a target on students’ backs, so I’ll vote against it, and I’m embarrassed to be up here tonight, debating this with you.”

But CEC D2 president Leonard Silverman was glad to see the measure passed, even if he conceded the vote carried little weight.

“Unfortunately, my experience has been that organizations, including community education councils, are sometimes created to give the appearance that parents have control over the process when the reality is, that we don’t have any control,” he said, noting earlier that transgender athletes may have a biological advantage and pose a risk to a “level playing field.”

Regarding a ban on transgender athletes, Silverman recognizes that conversation will come much later.

Linda Quarles, the lone public speaker in support of resolution 248, stated that there is no national or worldwide consensus on the topic.

“This regulation has been in place for five years, I’m sure we’ve learned much about how this is impacting girls’ sports in our schools,” Quarles went on to say.

“It allows us to look back and understand that the regulation is meeting its original intent.”

The resolution is not the only effort in New York to address transgender athletes on female sports teams.

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