GREEN BAY, WI (WFRV) – A closed-door meeting between Green Bay school officials and parents concerned about a transgender athlete playing with their daughters happened Thursday night.
Parent Ryan Gusick said the meeting was about 15 minutes long and involved about 40 parents, some district officials, and a lawyer who explained Title IX, which states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Gusick said he was disappointed and that given the district’s view that the single transgender athlete in question meets the criteria, the student will be allowed to participate. Gusick says his daughters will opt out of upcoming tryouts.
“I think it just reaffirmed the fact that they are not going to play,” Gusick told Local 5 News. “They’re just too concerned, mainly concerned about the locker room and the safety concern.”
The meeting came just one day after two bills on the issue were re-introduced after not getting very far in the previous session in Madison.
Senate Bill 377 and Senate Bill 378 would exclude transgender students in elementary, high schools, and public colleges and universities from participating in sports teams consistent with their identified gender.
Governor Tony Evers has said in the past he plans to veto the bills.
Two Rivers Republican Shae Sortwell told Local 5 News his colleagues are going to press the issue, and he thinks the legislation will get further this time around.
“My platoon sergeant in the military, she could have run circles around me,” Sortwell said to Local 5’s Michele McCormack. “We’re not comparing middle-of-the-road people to middle-of-the-road people. We’re talking about the elite of sports and who can be the best. And when you’re talking about physical capabilities, biology matters.”
The current policy with the WIAA, which oversees athletics statewide, is that the student must have one calendar year of medically documented testosterone suppression therapy to be eligible to participate on a female team.
The ACLU says it fiercely opposes the bills because this is about what’s best for all kids, and research shows young people benefit from participating in athletics.
“Lawmakers should tackle the real issues with gender parity in sports, including unequal funding, resources, pay equity, and more,” Dr. Melinda Brennan, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, said in a media release issued Thursday. “Promoting baseless fears about trans athletes does nothing to address those fundamental problems.”
ACLU’s Advocacy Director Amanda Merkwae went on to tell Local 5 in a Zoom interview that the organization is confident Governor Evers will follow through on his promise to veto, but they are concerned that the renewed debate will make transgender athletes targets.
“The fight really isn’t about sports,” Merkwae said. “I think nationwide, we’ve seen this coordinated effort to erase trans people in all aspects of public life. Sports is just one of those examples. They’re trying to create solutions to problems that don’t really exist.”