Thursday, May 23, 2024
Thursday, May 23, 2024
HomeAll The NewsNAIA Announces New Policy on Transgender Athlete Participation

NAIA Announces New Policy on Transgender Athlete Participation

By Terry Kimbrow, President • Central Baptist College

      As the current president of the American Midwest Conference (AMC), the athletic conference in which CBC has competed for many years, I have been privileged to represent CBC and the AMC on the Council of Presidents (COP) at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national meetings every spring and fall. This policy revision has been in the works for two years. The previous NAIA policy mirrored the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (as is common for some policies), which only applied to post-season play, leaving us vulnerable without a policy for regular conference games.

      When the NCAA’s updated transgender policy was released in 2022, I knew I could not support anything close to those directives. The COP reviewed several “position statements” over the past two years but could not reach a consensus. The policy we approved April 8 allows CBC to continue our mission of “transforming lives through the integration of Christian faith and academic excellence in a Christ-centered environment.” I’m committed to preserving our mission at all costs.

      The NAIA’s COP approved the policy in a 20-0 vote. Below is the official press release from the NAIA Director of Communications Jen Saab:

      The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Council of Presidents (COP) voted on April 8 to adopt a new transgender participation policy, effective Aug. 1, 2024.

      In April 2022, the NAIA’s Transgender Task Force was formed and tasked with determining whether the NAIA’s existing transgender policy needed to be altered and if so, bring forth a new policy recommendation to the COP. During their nearly two years of work, the task force was guided by the following principles:

  • Creating fairness in competition,
  • Treating individuals with respect and dignity, and
  • Ensuring transparent efforts and encouraging member feedback.

      “We are unwavering in our support of fair competition for our student-athletes,” said NAIA President & CEO Jim Carr. “It is crucial that NAIA member institutions, conferences and student-athletes participate in an environment that is equitable and respectful. With input from our member institutions and the Transgender Task Force, the NAIA’s Council of Presidents has confirmed our path forward.”

      The updated NAIA policy attempts to balance the interests and obligations of the NAIA to offer fair competition, create a structure that allows members to comply with Title IX and other applicable laws and provide appropriate and reasonable opportunities for transgender athletes to compete.

      Input regarding transgender participation in athletics was obtained from members and student-athletes throughout the process, with feedback overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed policy.

      Title IX ensures there are separate and equal opportunities for female athletes. As a result, the NAIA offers separate categories of competition in all sports except for competitive cheer and competitive dance, which are both co-ed. The new transgender participation policy will therefore apply to all sports except for cheer and dance.

      Student-athletes may participate in NAIA competition in accordance with the following conditions:

      • Participation by students in sports designated as male by the NAIA:
All eligible NAIA student-athletes may participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports.

      • Participation by students in sports designated as female by the NAIA:
Only NAIA student-athletes whose biological sex is female may participate in NAIA-sponsored female sports. They may participate under the following conditions:

      — A student who has not begun any masculinizing hormone therapy may participate without limitation.

      — A student who has begun masculinizing hormone therapy may participate in:

      * All activities that are internal to the institution (does not include external competition), including workouts, practices and team activities. Such participation is at the discretion of the NAIA member institution where the student is enrolled; and

      * External competition that is not a countable contest as defined by the NAIA (per National Administrative Council (NAC) Policy Article XXV, Section A, Item 12). Such participation is at the discretion of the NAIA member institution where the student is enrolled.

      An NAIA institution that has a student-athlete who has begun masculinizing hormone therapy must notify the NAIA national office. The national office will take the necessary steps to provide appropriate privacy protections.

      This policy will be subject to review in light of any legal, scientific or medical developments.

      The NAIA emphasizes the importance of respecting the privacy of transgender athletes. Institutions are responsible for adhering to NAIA regulations and self-reporting any policy violations. The policy will undergo periodic reviews to ensure it remains aligned with legal, scientific and medical advancements.

      The NAIA met April 5-9 in Kansas City, Mo. as part of the 2024 NAIA National Convention.

         About NAIA — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is a governing body of small athletics programs that are dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. Since 1937, the NAIA has administered programs dedicated to championships in balance with the overall college educational experience. Each year more than 83,000 NAIA student-athletes have the opportunity to play college sports, earn over $1.3 billion in scholarships, and compete for a chance to participate in 28 national championships.

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