New Hanover County Schools to no longer allow transgender middle school students to play on sports teams that match their gender identity
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) –The New Hanover County Board of Education has voted to amend Policy 3620.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, the board of education voted four to three to amend the language in Policy 3620 to no longer allow transgender middle school students to play on sports teams that match their gender identity. The policy now reads that students may participate only on the team consistent with the gender on the student’s birth certificate unless in violation of North Carolina State Law.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, most of the comments were about Policy 3620 — whether for or against.
“The issue on the table is that democrats want boys to have the option to take away sports opportunities from girls. I mean, it’s so ridiculous. It’s not even a thoughtful issue,” Nevin Carr said.
“The fear you express for children is the fear I, a transgender student, face every single day,” Jett Tidd said. “I ask you, as an elected official, shouldn’t you have the same level of worry for all students? Are your children better or more important than students like me?”
Before the meeting, hundreds of people were lined up outside the building waiting to go in. The building that hosts the Board of Education meetings has a capacity of 170 people, that capacity was reached and a long line of people was left outside as the meeting began.
Along the back wall stood a group of Proud Boys. According to a bystander, someone bumped into one of the Proud Boys and knocked them into the lap of someone sitting down. This resulted in a loud argument, disrupting public comment. Board Chair Pete Wildeboer called for a five-minute break and then the situation escalated. People began shouting “take them out,” in an effort to have the Proud Boys removed from the meeting. No one was forcibly removed from the meeting, but several people left following the incident and public comment resumed.
When the board reached Policy 3620 on the agenda, Board Member Pat Bradford made the motion to strike and insert the phrasing that “students may participate only on the team consistent with the gender on the student’s birth certificate unless in violation of North Carolina State Law.” Josie Barnhart seconded this motion.
Stephanie Kraybill offered an amended motion to postpone the discussion on Policy 3620 until the board could receive more training on Title IX and how it impacts transgender students. Stephanie Walker seconded this motion and expressed concern that amending the policy would open the board up to lawsuits.
After a brief discussion, Kraybill attempted to make another motion to go into a closed session to further the discussion with the board’s attorney. Wildeboer responded to this by telling her she was out of order. When she asked why he said, “because I said you are.” Kraybill then said she could appeal Wildeboer’s decision to call her out of order. The back-and-forth was interrupted by the board’s attorney, instructing them to vote on Kraybill’s first motion to postpone. That motion failed, then the board voted to go into closed session.
When the board returned, another motion to postpone the discussion failed and Bradford’s motion to strike and insert her phrasing remained on the table. She said she intended for the policy to go into effect when it was passed. Hugh McManus asked for clarification that transgender students currently involved in a sport would essentially have to turn in their uniforms tomorrow.
“Is that really what we want to do? That’s getting awfully low folks,” McManus told the board.
Walker made another motion to send the policy back to the policy committee. During this discussion, Wildeboer asked McManus if he would be comfortable passing a motion tonight that had a start date for the beginning of the next school year.
“Well, now I’m not sure. I’m totally disgusted with what was just recommended,” McManus replied. “To throw kids under the bus. It’s one thing to make a decision, it’s another to cut somebody and watch them bleed.”
There were several more failed motions involving postponing the discussion and when it would go into effect. Barnhart shared an anecdote about coaching a rec-league volleyball team that was primarily middle school-aged girls but allowed three middle school-aged boys to play for one season because they did not have a team to play on. She said her team dominated that season and the decision was made to no longer allow the boys to play on the team because it gave the team an unfair advantage.
“This is not an easy thing, this is not a religious thing, this is not a political thing. This is something that when we’re writing policy, we have to look at the fallout for the effects of our decision,” Barnhart said. “What I fear is by allowing this, there’s at some point going to be a tipping point. We’re not going to know when it is, how many it’s going to be, but when it comes we’re going to say ‘oh shoot what did we do.'”
Ultimately, the board voted four to three to amend the policy, no longer allowing transgender middle school students to play on teams that match their gender identity.
McManus, Walker, and Kraybill voted against the amendment.
The board did agree to allow the new policy to go into effect at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.