Transgender students and allies decry Georgia's new state policy that they say discriminates against transgender athletes on the school team. They will fight and not be silent, they say.
"Our trans youth, our queer youth, every single kid in this state deserves so much better than what we are being afforded right now," activist and former Democratic state House candidate Bentley Hudgins declared against Georgia High School Association's new rules that require all students to only play on a sports team that matches their biological sex as identified on their birth certificate, Georgia Recorder reported.
Peter Isbiter, head of a resource group for parents of transgender children called TransParent, metro Atlanta chapter, intensely reacted that the ban does not solve any problem because there is no such problem that exists in the first place. "There is no groundswell of cisgender kids and students seeking to ban their classmates from team sports," he further detailed.
According to the Associated Press, Georgia High School Association, which supervises athletics in 465 schools across the state, voted unanimously for the new rules explaining that they see an unfair advantage as transgender girls are naturally born stronger males, and naturally born girls can be set aside or "denied places on the team" if playing against transgender girls. This change of rule came after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill on transgender athletes.
This issue about transgender athletes taking part in women's sports has been controversial for months, being strongly highlighted in the American culture war. Republicans, led by Kemp, have always emphasized the unfair advantage trans students bring in sports competition, which opponents cleary disagree with, saying that the passing of the bill is just a "cynical" election move to win over the voters who are against transgenders. More so, the latter echoes Isbiter's comment, pointing out that there has been no transgender athlete dominating the sports scene in Georgia.
Schools Become 'Unsafe, Discriminatory Environment For Trans Youth'
The New York Times has presented that there is a generational shift happening with the number of youth identifying themselves as transgender having "nearly doubled" in the current and past years.
These transgender youth should be protected. These kids "deserve love and support, peace of mind, health care, happiness, to be carefree and focus on living out their greatest potential. They deserve not to be debated but affirmed and the right to exist without their government trying to push them out of everyday life," said Ricardo Martinez, chief executive officer of the largest L.G.B.T.Q. organization in the state, Equality Texas.
"GHSA and Georgia legislators are creating exactly the type of unsafe, discriminatory environment for trans youth that school counselors are tasked with preventing," declared Jennifer Susko, the school counselor that resigned from Cobb County school district a year ago because of its ways of handling racial issues. She further stated that the new rule denies the professional obligations of counselors to deal with transgender students according to their gender identity and make sure they do not get harassed or discriminated or suffer discipline in any way. The new rule can bring transgender youth to an "elevated risk" for depression and suicidal thoughts and attempts. Thus, they should be provided with a safe environment where they can feel a sense of belonging.
"In particular, Black transgender youth report disproportionate rates of suicide risk with 59% seriously considering suicide, and more than one in four, or 26%, attempting suicide in 2020. So, there's an urgency to building safe, inclusive, welcoming spaces, including in sports, for transgender students, in an effort to intervene," Susko added.
Hudgins, Isbiter, and Susko were among the speakers of last Wednesday's virtual meeting after a rally scheduled Sunday was canceled due to a death threat sent to a young LGBTQ organizer in the metro Atlanta via email, with specific details on the time, date, and location of the rally, to which Isbiter pointed out as an act of a coward, and, along with the action of Kemp and all who voted for the ban, a "direct threat to the rights of our families and children, the right not to live in fear."
'Start Your Own Team'
While transgender students and activists call the new rule discrimination, some disagree. Comments from Newsbreak, which posted the news yesterday, are saying that transgender students need to just start their own teams and compete against each other.
"They need their own sport and go against each other. Then it will be fair...right? Yes! Don't take away the biological kids who struggle with the basic needs for someone who thinks society owes it to them for being different," one comment said.
Another comment even thank Kemp for "standing up for real female athletics."