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School defends trans basketball player accused of hurting female opponent

via News Nation

A Massachusetts high school is standing by its decision to let a transgender student play on the girls’ basketball team after an injury occurred during a game.

In the game, the transgender player wrestled for a rebound and tossed an opponent hard to the court, causing a back injury.

This led to criticism online and the opposing school forfeiting the second half due to injuries.

While the transgender student’s school says safety is a top priority, they also support state laws allowing students to play on teams matching their gender identity.

KIPP Academy’s executive director, Rhonda Barnes said, “To the best of our knowledge, this student has never been on a men’s team at KIPP.”

A KIPP Academy spokesperson added, “We condemn harmful comments being made online toward members of our community and will continue to let the vision, mission and principles of our organization guide our actions.”

Barnes wrote in a statement, “The vision of KIPP Massachusetts is that every child grows up free to create the future they want for themselves and their communities.”

“To do this, we work to create joyful and identity-affirming schools for our students, and prioritize maintaining student and staff safety above everything else,” continued the executive director.

Barnes continued, “We also support state laws and regulations, which provide students with the right to participate in all school extracurricular activities and sports based on their gender identity or expression.”

She added, “We condemn harmful comments being made online toward members of our community, and will continue to let the vision, mission and principles of our organization guide our actions.”

Carol Rose, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts suggested that the video was “part of a coordinated attempt nationwide to try to remove LGBTQ people from public life.”

The opposing school backed their coach’s decision, citing concerns over further injuries with playoffs approaching.

Collegiate Charter spokesperson Casey Crane wrote in a statement, “On February 8th, the coach of the Collegiate Charter School of Lowell Girls’ Basketball Team decided to end a game at halftime after watching a third player injured in the game with KIPP Academy.”

Crane explained, “The bench was already depleted going into the game with the 12-player roster having four players unable to play. When the coach saw three more go down in the first half leaving him with five players, he made the call to end the game early. The upcoming Charter School playoffs were looming, and he needed a healthy and robust bench in four days.”

Crane wrote, “Once the third was injured, the remaining five expressed concern to him about continuing to play. The players feared getting injured and not being able to compete in the playoffs,” the statement reads.

“In an effort to maintain safety for his team, he decided to forfeit. The Charter School supports this decision and reiterates its values of both inclusivity and safety for all students. We take the standards set by the MIAA and our Board of Trustees seriously and strive to uphold them on and off the court. We also follow the guidance from the MIAA and state laws regarding equity and access for all student-athletes,” her statement continued.

Section 43.3.1 of The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) handbook states that “a student shall not be excluded from participation on a gender-specific sports team that is consistent with the student’s bona fide gender identity.”

Section 43.3.4 also states, “It is a recommended best practice that schools communicate with their opponents as necessary about the gender-specific needs of their team in order to promote inclusion – e.g. to ensure that appropriate locker room facilities are available, that announcer use athlete’s correct pronouns, etc.”

Massachusetts General Laws also declare “no person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges, and courses of study of such public school on account of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.”

Civil rights groups defended transgender athletes’ right to participate without issues in most cases.

The state athletic association guidelines say students cannot be excluded from gender-specific teams matching their identity, and communication is advised to promote inclusion.

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