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Maine high school students now allowed to play on sports teams according to their gender identity

In this May 24, 2017 photo Fadumo Adan, a lacrosse player at Deering High School, wears a sports hijab provided by the school during practice in Portland, Maine. Deering High School is providing sport hijabs with the goal of making Muslim girls comfortable and boosting their participation in sports. Tennis co-captains Liva Pierce and Anaise Manikunda solicited private donations to avoid criticism for using taxpayer funds on religious apparel, and ended up with enough to outfit all teams, including lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, softball, field hockey and track. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Robert F. Bukaty/AP
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AP
In this May 24, 2017 students at Deering High school play lacrosse in Portland, Maine.

A new policy will allow Maine high school students to participate on sports teams according to their gender identity.

The Maine Principal's Association (MPA) governs high school athletics across the state, and on Wednesday the MPA's membership adopted a policy that non-binary students may join the team in which they feel most comfortable.

As recently as 2021, the Maine Principal's Association required transgender students go before an MPA committee to present evidence and obtain permission. Gia Drew, executive director for Equality Maine, said that changed when state legislators amended the Maine Human Rights Act in 2022.

Drew said the new policy will bolster the inclusion of transgender children in Maine.

"I think this just sort of shows the full spectrum, that transgender people can do all sorts of things," Drew said. "We don't have to hide who we are from the world. We can participate fully, in the ways that young people get to experience school. Whether that's in plays, or in clubs, or in sports."

The MPA rule gives each member school the sole authority in determining a student's gender identity for athletics. Drew said she's hoping this is to protect transgender athletes from outside hostility.

"It kind of just lays out really clearly for folks, if you're transgender, or you're non binary, what those avenues are. [You're] free to play on your school's sport team," Drew said.

The policy also forbids requests for medical records or official documents to establish a student athlete's gender identity.

Nick Song is Maine Public's inaugural Emerging Voices Fellowship Reporter.


Originally from Southern California, Nick got his start in radio when he served as the programming director for his high school's radio station. He graduated with a degree in Journalism and History from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University -- where he was Co-News Director for WNUR 89.3 FM, the campus station.