DOVER — The addition of transgender student-athletes into the sports world has brought a debate with it.
The biggest question at both the high school and college level seems to be whether athletes born as males should be allowed to compete as females.
The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association has guidelines on the subject but no set rules. The organization is establishing a committee to deal with the issues posed by transgender athletes but is still accepting applications for the group.
After the DIAA’s January board of directors meeting on Thursday, Sussex Central High principal Dr. Bradley Layfield said the fate of Delaware House Bill 199 may make any DIAA decision moot anyway.
If passed, the bill would add “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” and “disability” to qualities that are protected against discrimination according to the state’s constitution.
“Anything that is going to have more of a sweeping and wide-ranging authority — which a constitutional amendment would — is probably what you should give credence to moving forward,” said Layfield, the DIAA board chairman.
“If it doesn’t pass, then you start to get more granular. How do you tackle the issue of fairness and transgender rights in classrooms and in schools, or within sports or within different elements in society?”
Layfield said the transgender committee would probably be discussed at the DIAA’s next board meeting on Feb. 10.
On Wednesday, the NCAA put out a new policy in which eligibility requirements for transgender athletes will be determined by each sport’s national governing body.
Last winter, because of the COVID pandemic, the DIAA held open state tournaments in both boys’ and girls’ basketball.
As things stand now, the tourneys will return to 24-team fields this season.
But, on Thursday, the DIAA began discussing whether it should go back to open or larger tournaments because of the number of games canceled by COVID again this winter.
The DIAA basketball committees have a tentative meeting slated for Feb. 6 if the situation continues.
Under the current regulations, teams have to play a minimum of 15 games to be eligible for the tournament. DIAA executive director Donna Polk said a few teams in the state have played just five games so far.
The last day for regular-season competition is Feb. 23.