A student-athlete at a Utah high school was investigated over her gender after she placed first at a state-level competition, a spokesperson for the Utah High School Activities Association confirmed to CBS News on Thursday. Officials confirmed the student has been listed as female since her enrollment in kindergarten.
Spokesperson Dave Spatafore confirmed the investigation, which occurred after the parents of girls who won second and third place submitted a complaint through the UHSAA questioning whether the winner was assigned female at birth. UHSAA officials confirmed the female athlete was eligible by checking student records from her current year all the way back to kindergarten.
Spatafore said the association investigates every complaint they receive. “Parents were concerned there wasn’t a level playing field,” he said.
To keep her identity hidden, officials will not release the name, age, high school or sport of the student. According to Spatafore, the student and her parents were unaware the complaint and investigation were going on “to the best of his knowledge.”
The news comes as states across the country continue to debate whether transgender student-athletes should be allowed to participate in the sports team of their chosen gender. In Utah, the battle went all the way to the governor’s desk, with Gov. Spencer Cox vetoing a controversial bill banning transgender student-athletes from participating in girls sports. Only a day later, Cox’s veto was overruled by the state legislature and the “Student Eligibility in Interscholastic Activities” bill became law.
In his veto, Cox cited that, at the time, there were only four out transgender student-athletes in the state and only one of them was a girl.
“I am not an expert on transgenderism. I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting. When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion,” Cox wrote in a letter explaining his decision. “If a veto override occurs, I hope we can work to find ways to show these four kids that we love them and they have a place in our state.”
The bill was scheduled to go into effect during the 2022-2023 school year, which starts on Aug. 30 in Utah. But a current lawsuit is challenging the state ban in an effort to put it on hold before it can go into effect, according to the Associated Press.
According to the 2022-2023 UHSAA handbook, transgender athletes are allowed to play on the sports team of their choice after they are deemed eligible by the principal of their school, school district and the UHSAA. Students seeking eligibility must submit several forms and requests, including a list of current medications and verification from a healthcare professional. Transgender girls must have completed at least one full year of hormone therapy before they are allowed to play on the girls’ team.
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