GSAFE congratulates the Baraboo School Board who approved a transgender athletic participation policy during their regular meeting last night.  The policy passed by a 4 to 3 vote and was based on a model policy introduced by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association in 2013.  Around 100 individuals attended last night’s meeting, with public commentary lasting for nearly two hours.
With the vote Baraboo became one of the first Wisconsin school districts to modernize their athletic policy with clear guidelines around privacy, safety, and accessibility for transgender athletes.

While dozens spoke both in support and against the policy, there was a clear demonstration of support from community members for current and future transgender students.  Throughout the night numerous students, parents, educators, faith leaders, health professionals, business owners, elected officials, and others spoke with heart and pragmatism in support of this policy and transgender students.

Baraboo High School Gay-Straight Alliance president Catherine Hartup was especially powerful when she spoke, saying, “When this district and this board say they’re here to back all students, I expect that to mean all students. If this policy isn’t passed, then we have instead chosen to dig ourselves a hole, a hole where we can only care about some, not all, of our students here at Baraboo High School.”

GSAFE thanks Baraboo school board member Doug Mering for introducing and championing this policy update, as well as his colleagues Sean McNevin, Mo Reilly, and Peter Vedro for their yes votes last night.  All four spoke about this vote not only being pragmatic, but also the right thing to do.  They demonstrated leadership while on the hot seat, and set an example for other Wisconsin school districts.

GSAFE became involved in this policy effort after the board came under fire by Wisconsin Family Action and other groups for moving this policy forward.  We were pleased by the positive response from people connected to the Baraboo community as well as other supporters who reached out to school board members to thank the board for their leadership and to encourage them to vote to support all students.

Read and watch more about this policy effort:

Baraboo school board approves transgender student participation policy, Baraboo News Republic, 12/15/2014

Baraboo School Board passes transgender student policy change, WKOW, 12/15/2014

Baraboo School Board under scrutiny while considering policy for transgender athletes, Wisconsin State Journal, 12/15/2014

NOTE: If you are aware of similar efforts in your district, please let GSAFE know!