The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) made its controversial 2014 transgender policy. The MSHSL policy left the decision on these matters up to the schools but implemented a subjective appeal process for student/school disputes over the matter.

MSHSL History

Child Protection League was in the heat of the battle over this issue sending out email alerts, running ads, engaging government officials and seeking support from the community to oppose this legislation. The result brought some relief, but we see today how this issue has morphed and is now part of every classroom and every sport from kindergarten to professional athletes.

CPL Email Alerts

MSHSL Opens Girls’ Sports to Boys Violates Existing Laws

In a vote that ignored clear warnings from three state legislators, a formal legal opinion from the Liberty Counsel, and a letter from the American College of Pediatricians, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) passed a policy yesterday that opens girls’ sports teams to biological males. One member of the 20-member Board dissented and one abstained.

The new policy applies only to Male to Female (MTF) transgender athletes. Under existing law, girls may try out and play on male teams. However, they compete as girls, not as Female to Male (FTM) transgender athletes. MSHSL Executive Director David Stead pointedly stated that this policy is only for the benefit of opening transgender boys who identify as girls to girls’ teams.

Anti-discrimination provisions in current law define limiting biological boys to boys’ teams as non-discriminatory. Minn. Stat. Sec 363A.23 Subd. 2, provides that “it is not an unfair discriminatory practice for an educational institution…to operate or sponsor separate athletic teams and activities for members of each sex or to restrict membership on an athletic team to participants of one sex…”

“State and federal Title IX laws are clear that limiting girls’ sports teams to girls is not discrimination,” said CPLAction State Coordinator Michele Lentz. “The MSHSL has turned those laws on their heads. They were enacted specifically to protect and promote girls’ sports.”

State Representative Peggy Scott, Senator Warren Limmer, and Senator Paul Gazelka testified against adopting the policy, citing its conflict with existing law, and urging the Board to leave changing the law to the legislature. Senator Limmer is a former Chair and current Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Treating boys who feel like girls as if they are girls and treating boys who feel like boys as if they are boys is irrational,” said Lentz.

“Aside from violating the law, this policy is an aggressive and hostile act against Minnesota’s children, families and the public, violating every principle of human biology and reason. This policy,” she continued “has nothing to do with what is best for Minnesota children, transgender or not. The MSHSL has chosen to be complicit in a nation-wide design to quickly impose a false interpretation of the anti-discrimination laws upon us, dishonestly insisting this is what the law requires, and to do it as fast as possible, before public resistance can grow.”

According to Lentz’s testimony, presenting the transgender policy as a legal mandate comes straight from the federal Office of Civil Rights under the Obama administration. By Mr. Stead’s own admission, he has been pressured and coached by them.

Contrary to a media statement by MSHSL President McCready yesterday in which he stated that “the measure amounts to a mandatory policy for schools,” what was passed yesterday is guidance, not a mandate. Even the MSHSL Meeting Synopsis describes it this way:

“League member schools will now have some guidance [our emphasis] from the Board on determining the eligibility of transgender male-to-female (MTF) students to participate in gender-specific athletic programs. Effective with the 2015-16 school year, member schools are encouraged [our emphasis] to base such MTF eligibility decisions on the criteria the Board approved.”

McCready wants schools to believe that they are mandated to allow transgender male-to-female athletes to compete on the team of their gender identity. CPLAction vehemently disagrees. While the policy intentionally does not state it, schools cannot lose their MSHSL membership by not following this guidance.

“We strongly advise schools not to adopt the MSHSL criteria or insert it to their handbooks,” stated Lentz. “We urge them to comply with the law that protects girls’ sports and that also respects the physical privacy of both boys and girls, privacy which will inevitably be compromised by adopting the MSHSL view of the law. Let transgender students appeal to the MSHSL as this policy establishes, and let the MSHSL be fully liable for the legal and judicial consequences that are soon to come. The MSHSL does not have the authority to overrule state law.”

To claim that 32 states have transgender athletic policies is a false statement. From GLSEN:

California has already joined a group of more than half a dozen states with school policies that allow transgender athletes to choose whether to play sports with males or females. The above map shows these states, according to information provided by the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). [Click for more information.] GLSEN states that have trans athletic policy

Letter from Liberty Counsel

December 3, 2014

Mr. Scott McCready
President of the Board of Directors,
Minnesota State High School League
St. Charles HS
600 East 6th Street St. Charles MN 55972

Re: Proposed MSHSL Transgender Policy Dear Board President McCready,

By way of brief introduction, Liberty Counsel is a non-profit litigation, education, and policy organization with an emphasis on religious liberty issues. We have offices in Orlando, Florida; Lynchburg, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Jerusalem, Israel, and hundreds of affiliate attorneys around the world, including Minnesota.

Liberty Counsel writes on behalf of concerned parents, students and school administrators regarding the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) proposed policy entitled “Gender Identity Participation in MSHSL Activities.” Not only does this proposed policy threaten student privacy and safety, and full female participation in the high school athletic environment, it also impacts religious freedom.

Specifically, the proposed policy states,

When there is confirmation of a student’s consistent and uniform gender- related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of the person’s core identity, the student will be eligible to participate in MSHSL activities consistent with the student’s gender-related identification for the balance of the student’s high school eligibility.

In support of this proposed policy, David Stead’s letter of November 28, 2014 to the MSHSL Board discusses both Title IX and Minnesota law. This letter contains significant errors, not the least of which is the statement that it is “well established that discrimination against transgender students is prohibited by Title IX.”

In support of this proposition, Mr. Stead cites no legal authority, but merely references the “Federal Guidance document” from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence,” which in turn cites no authority – case law or statutory – for the proposition that Title IX now applies to students claiming to be the opposite sex for purposes of high school athletics. [continue reading]

Entire letter regarding Proposed MSHSL Transgender Policy

Letter from the American College of Pediatricians

December 3, 2014

Minnesota State High School League
Board of Directors
2100 Freeway Boulevard
Brooklyn Center, MN 55430-1735

Dear Board of Directors,

The American College of Pediatricians (the College) is a national organization of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children. Part of our mission is to provide the best available research and our professional experience to policymakers to assist them in developing policies which help children achieve optimal levels of physical and emotional health and well-being.

It is in this context that the College urges the board not to adopt the proposed policy related to the participation of gender identity discordant students in high school athletic programs. There is not sufficient scientific evidence to document that this is a healthful course of action for any student – including those whom this policy is intended to accommodate; those who identify as transgender.

There are three reasons we discourage the adoption of this proposed policy:

  1. Many of the students concerned may have a mental health condition known as Gender Dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria is a mental disorder in which an individual experiences distress over a deeply felt desire or belief that he or she is the opposite sex (see Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V). There is no scientific evidence that anyone is “born in the wrong body” or that Gender Dysphoria is an innate or immutable condition. According to the Endocrine Society’s Clinical Guidelines, there is significantly insufficient scientific support for the use of “puberty blockers” to facilitate trans-identifying students to pass as members of the opposite sex, thereby affirming their feelings that they are actually the opposite sex.1 (PDF attached)A number of mental health professionals who have successfully treated Gender Dysphoria in youth stress that the “affirmation” of children’s gender confusion by allowing them to behave and be treated as the opposite sex reinforces this mental disorder and renders the success of therapy less likely.2Surely the board has the best of intentions in considering this policy. However, based on the experience of the Endocrine Society and the aforementioned mental health professionals, adopting this policy could actually be harmful to the very students it seeks to serve. Changing the existing policy to normalize their gender identity confusion and officially accommodate it by adopting this policy would constitute a very strong affirmation of their disorder. The College believes this course of action would decrease the likelihood of these troubled adolescents seeking the professional help they need.
    Furthermore, it is also possible that those who do seek therapy will be less likely to successfully deal with their disorder.Schools have no authority to engage in therapy for psychological challenges such as Gender Dysphoria. Adopting this policy, however, would amount to a therapeutic intervention which will likely be detrimental to the very students it seeks to accommodate.
  2. In considering this proposed policy change, it is also essential to understand that the best estimates are that a mere 0.3% of Americans identify as transgender.3 Yet this proposed policy change will violate the fundamental right to privacy of 100% of the students involved in athletic programs (since even students identifying as transgender will also be sacrificing their physical privacy). It does not appear to the College that the board has adequately considered the potential harm this policy will have on all students and on the larger high school athletic program. Given public reaction to date, there seems little doubt that mandating that students share locker rooms and bathrooms with individuals of the opposite sex will generate even more negative feelings and may result in many students forgoing athletic participation altogether.
  3.  As physicians we must also express our concern about the potential for injury if gender- confused students are allowed to choose to participate on opposite-sex teams. There is low scientific evidence which supports the healthfulness of hormone treatments currently administered to many of these youth.Science simply cannot demonstrate that gender discordant youth either on or off these hormones are not at greater risk for physical injury particularly when participating on opposite-sex teams for contact sports.The College encourages the board to more carefully consider all the implications of this proposed policy and then vote it down. Every school should be a safe environment which respects the bodily privacy of all students. The status quo ensures this; the proposed policy does not.


Den Trumbull, M.D., F.C.P. President
American College of Pediatricians

Michelle A. Cretella, M.D., F.C.P. Vice President
American College of Pediatricians

1 Hembree, W., et al. (2009). Endocrine Treatment of Transsexual Persons: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 94(9).
2 Zucker, K., Bradley, S (1995). Gender Identity Disorder and Psychosexual Problems in Children and Adolescents
(p.283). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
3 Gates, G. (2011). How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender? Retrieved from

Letter from The American College of Pediatricians (pgs 1-3)

 A Letter to an MSHSL Board Member

(Send us your letter to the MSHSL or letter-to-the-editor at

Hello Mr. Johnson

My name is Brenda Look. I have children in the Anoka Hennepin school district. I am writing to let you know that I do NOT support the proposed transgender policy and respectfully request that you do NOT support it as well.

I have been reading about this issue, but have not reached out to you or any other organization until something happened to me this past week which compelled me to share my experience with you.

I traveled from Minnesota to Oklahoma for the Thanksgiving holiday. I stopped at a rest area off the highway to use the bathroom. I was in the Women’s restroom when a man walked into the women’s restroom. I had 3 thoughts: fear, confusion, and anger. It was in that instance that I decided I needed to reach out to those who were going to be voting on this issue.

I was in the correct bathroom. The man was not. He had no right or business whatsoever to see women changing, going to the bathroom, or fixing their face or hair in the mirror. I felt vulnerable, fearful, and intimidated. While in the bathroom with a person of the opposite sex, I had no one to watch out for me, my rights, my safety, or my privacy. I also had no choice in the matter.

You do have a choice. Right now, the high school boys and girls have a choice to be protected. PLEASE DO NOT MAKE OUR CHILDREN VULNERABLE OR MENTALLY OR PHYSICALLY HARMED IN ANY WAY. They deserve your thoughtful protection of their right to personal privacy. This policy contains NO privacy protections for students. In addition, this policy leaves schools vulnerable to lawsuits for violations of student’s privacy rights and religious freedom rights. I would much rather schools spend their dollars on educating the children of the district, not paying attorneys for lawsuits.

I urge you to use common sense and not pass this policy. Such a policy is NOT (repeat NOT) required under state or federal law.

Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration of this matter.

Brenda Look

Additional Information