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LETTER: We need to emphasize inclusion for transgender kids

In respone to Victor Joecks Wednesday column on transgender kids participating in sports: Let’s pause a minute to consider what is really at stake.

In the 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People — the Trevor Project, the leading national organization on the prevention of suicide among LGBTQ youth — found that 56 percent of transgender boys, 48 percent of transgender girls, and 48 percent of nonbinary children considered suicide in the past year. Of those, 23 percent of transgender boys, 16 percent of transgender girls and 17 percent of nonbinary children attempted suicide in the past year. Of the survey respondents, 53 percent reported being harassed at school because people thought they were LGBTQ and 32 percent reported they weren’t allowed to dress in a way that fit their gender identity or expression.

Sadly, this is not an environment in the United States where coming out as transgender or nonbinary is easy, or often even safe. Cisgender boys are not going to declare themselves to be transgender or nonbinary just to win a sporting event, as Mr. Joecks suggests.

But the Trevor Project has also consistently found that access to affirming spaces for LGBTQ youth helps reduce the rates of attempted suicides. Inclusive sports can be an important part of that. If families are helping their transgender and nonbinary children, and they are working with their doctors and perhaps on puberty blockers or other treatments, these kids will generally perform in sports at the same levels as their cisgender peers.

If we start with inclusion as the baseline, there is room for science to inform and guide competition. Even the International Olympic Committee in 2021 published a “Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex variations” and it regulates international competition at the highest levels. I think Nevada schools can do the same.

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