The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Board of Directors concluded its spring meeting with numerous policy changes taking place.

Of note the Board of Directors approved changes to rules governing the gender of players, home school student participation in member school programs, adjusted the eight-quarter rule for football participation, reduced the outside participation allowance for off-season football numbers, and adopted an official ball for all rounds of the playoffs in several sports.

“This Board of Directors has done an outstanding job of addressing pressing issues in education-based athletics during the course of this year,” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said. “The policies they have worked hard to craft have required much input and feedback from our member schools as well as our partners at the State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction. We are excited to be able to take a step forward in the interest of inclusion and participation opportunities for all students in our state.”

The Board of Directors amended the Handbook Section relating to “Gender of a Player” to become more inclusive relative to students who do not identify based on their certificate of birth. They also amended the Handbook Section relative to “Eligibility”, inserting sections that would be more inclusive to students who are regularly enrolled in home schools. Those amended sections are attached to this email release in PDF form. A “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) document will be developed for these policies over the coming weeks and distributed to the membership.

Other areas address by the Board included an adjustment in the eight-quarter participation rule in football. This amendment will allow schools to replace players on their eight-quarter participation lists in the cases of season-ending or catastrophic injury, and in cases of a transfer. The Board also reduced the number of allowable athletes on a single outside team during off-season competition in football. The number had been 21, but to be in-line with other sports, the board reduced the number to 10, which is one less player than constitutes a full team on the field of play.

Wilson has been a long-time corporate partner of the NCHSAA and the Board adopted provisions to make Wilson the official ball of the NCHSAA Playoffs in volleyball, soccer, football, basketball, softball, baseball and tennis. The approved and adopted ball must be used in all playoff contests from the first round through the state championship in these sports. The policy makes violation a use of improper equipment which is penalized by a $400 fine according to the NCHSAA Handbook.

Other decisions and action items from the Board of Directors meeting will be made available to the membership over the coming weeks when the full minutes are posted and emailed to the membership.

NCHSAA handbook version on gender is now as follows:

1.2.4 Gender of Player: The NCHSAA allows participation in interscholastic athletics for all students, regardless of gender or gender identification. It is the intent that all students are able to compete on a level playing field in a safe, competitive and friendly environment, free of discrimination. The following rules and regulations are intended to provide every student athlete with equal opportunities to participate in athletics.

a) A student may participate based on the gender noted on the student’s certificate of birth.

I. Women shall not participate on a men’s interscholastic athletic team where the school has a women’s team in the same sport or where a school sends an entry to the women’s state playoffs in the same sport. a) In cases where women are permitted on a men’s team, the school forfeits all participation in the women’s playoffs in the same sport.

b) Men’s rules will be used where women play on men’s teams. b) When a student’s gender identity differs from the gender listed on the student’s certificate of birth, the Gender Identity Request Form must be submitted by the member school to the NCHSAA prior to any participation by the student under circumstances that would constitute ineligibility. The Request should be based on the gender identification of that student in current school records and daily life activities in the school and community.

I. The following information should be submitted with the Request: a) Documentation from individuals such as, but not limited to, parents/legal guardians appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction, friends, and/or teachers, which affirm that the actions, attitudes, and manner demonstrate the student’s consistent gender identification.

b) A complete list of all the student’s prescribed, non-prescribed, or over the counter treatments or medications relative to gender identity.

c) A complete list of interventions that have happened related to the gender identity of the student.

d) Written verification from an appropriate healthcare professional (e.g. physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, school nurse, etc.) of the student’s consistent gender identification. Include any other social/emotional information from health-care professionals that would help the Committee make a decision about the student. This information must be submitted on office letterhead of the healthcare professional who provides verification with contact information and professional title of the individual.

e) Any other pertinent documentation or information which the student or parent(s)/legal guardian(s) appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction believe relevant and appropriate.

c) The NCHSAA will refer the Gender Identity Request to the NCHSAA Gender Identity Committee for consideration. The Committee will approve the Request if it finds that the student genuinely identifies as the gender indicated in the Request.

I. The NCHSAA Gender Identity Committee will consist of the following:

a) Current member of the Board of Directors;

b) LEA or school administrator;

c) Physician with experience in gender identity health care and/or World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care;

d) Psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed mental health professional familiar with the WPATH.

II. The Committee will require that the member school has verified that the student is eligible in all other aspects.

III. The Committee will respect and promote the student’s privacy and confidentiality rights under HIPPA and FERPA in the process of considering a Gender Identity Request. Information provided to the Committee will be shared only to the extent necessary to decide the Gender Identity Request; provided that, if a Gender Identity Request is approved, the student’s school may share the student’s gender identity with other schools as necessary to ensure appropriate accommodations when competing at another school.

d) In cases where a Gender Identity Request has been approved:

I. The student will be declared eligible to participate based on the student’s gender identity. a) 1.2.4.a is not in effect.

II. It shall be the responsibility of the school to comply with all state and federal mandates/laws.

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