OSAA defends gender policy regarding trans student-athletes

April 23, 2024 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
In response to a letter from women lawmakers, including Rep. Bobby Levy, the Oregon High School Activities Association (OSAA) has come out defending its gender policy in high school athletics.

A letter was sent to the OSAA encouraging the organization by women lawmakers to change its policy regarding transgender student-athletes competing in women’s sports. This was in response to a transgender athlete who recently participated in a girls’ track and field meet.

osaaCurrent OSAA rules allow for student-athletes to compete under the gender in which they identify. OSAA executive director Peter Weber issued a letter of his own clarifying the association’s stance.

A recent story from Elkhorn Media Group detailed the response from the OSAA about its gender policy in high school athletics.

Below is an excerpt from the Elkhorn Media Group story.

Weber responded to lawmakers, saying the agency’s policies are in line with the state legislature and Oregon Department of Education policies to prohibit discrimination — including on the basis of gender identity.

Elkhorn Media Group has reached out to Rep. Levy for comment on the OSAA’s response.

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The text of the full letter from Peter Weber is below:

April 18, 2024 

Dear Oregon Legislators, 

Thank you for your letter dated April 16, 2024. 

The Oregon School Activities Association is a private, non-profit membership association made up of public and private high schools across Oregon. We are a non-partisan organization, and our mission is to provide opportunities for tens of thousands of Oregon students to annually participate in interscholastic athletics and activities, from football and track to band and choir, to speech and debate, to cheer and dance. 

The OSAA, under the guidance of our member schools, creates and implements policies that comply with federal and state laws, including laws that are intended to keep our students safe and free from discrimination. Over the years, legislative directives from Oregon legislators have prompted the OSAA to adopt rules and policies that incorporate those directives. Those range from laws designed to protect athletes from concussions to laws that require procedures for addressing harassment and intimidation at interscholastic contests. 

Oregon law has long prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (ORS Chapter  659A). In 2019, the Oregon Department of Education amended its rules to provide that “sexual  orientation” was defined as including “gender identity.” OAR 581-021-0045(1)(c). The Oregon  Legislature likewise modified the definition of “sexual orientation” to include “gender identity.” 

In response, just over five years ago, the OSAA worked with the Oregon Department of Education to create a policy that was consistent with these legal protections given to students related to their gender identity, to help our member schools be in compliance with all legal requirements.  

As the Executive Director of OSAA, I work with our member schools and legal counsel to establish rules, policies, and guidelines that follow the legislative directives of the Oregon Legislature. With  regard to the track meet described in your letter, we believe that our policy and our member schools are in compliance with all applicable laws. 

Best regards, 

Peter Weber, Executive Director

To read the full story from Elkhorn Media Group, click here.