Reaction to New Hanover County School Board reversal on transgender sports team policy

Nhcs Board Policy Change

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) – People are speaking out one day after the New Hanover County Board of Education voted to no longer allow transgender middle school students to play on sports teams matching their gender identity.

WWAY spoke with parent who was in favor of board’s decision, and the executive director of the LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast, who is against the decision.

“We were told at least three students who were currently playing in their school athletics, and that would be affected by this policy,” said Caroline Morin, LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast executive director.

After Tuesday night’s New Hanover County Board of Education Meeting, 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. It will be implemented in the 2023 to 2024 school year.

Both Caroline Morin and Nevin Carr were among nearly two dozen people who spoke during public comment at the meeting.

“We were able to flip the school board, to people that were more sympathetic to our point of view, and so yeah I was thrilled to see our efforts were paying off throughout the process,” said Nevin Carr, parent.

“It’s a very disappointing decision for our community and for our allies. It’s difficult to understand why there’s such a conviction to exclude children from playing games, but that’s really the outcome for us last night,” said Morin.

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.

“It wasn’t unique to this community. It was a nationwide effort, to try to attack the opportunities for girls in their own sports, and we’ve all seen it. We’ve seen the video of that swimmer Lia Thomas. There’s countless examples,” said Carr.

Morin, executive director of the LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast, says they attended the meeting to show support to transgender students.

“I honestly can’t imagine telling a child, you can’t play with your friends anymore. Last year it was okay, and now it’s not, and there’s no reason that we can really provide for you other than who you are as a person, doesn’t line up with what we like in people,” said Morin.

New Hanover County Schools sent a statement on the amended policy, which reads in part “New Hanover County Schools will implement this policy change in compliance with applicable state and federal law while making every effort to ensure a smooth transition and prioritize the well-being and success of all students.”

Tuesday’s vote reversed a decision made by the board more than a year and a half ago, that allowed middle school students to play on the sports team that aligns with their gender identity. There were drastic changes to the New Hanover County School Board in the November 2022 election.

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