Any proposal the Nebraska School Activities Association might consider regarding transgender students' participation in school activities will go through the organization's normal legislative process, two board members said Tuesday.
That means the soonest any policy could into effect would be the fall of 2014.
Alan Garey, the board's incoming chairman, said the board will discuss the issue during its meeting today but will not take a vote as officials had said in June.
Most of the organization's policies are driven by members, said Garey, superintendent of the Medicine Valley Public Schools in Curtis, Neb.
“So this was something the board felt needed to go back to the membership to get their input,” he said.
The first opportunity for that to occur will be during the organization's six district meetings in November. During those meetings, every member high school within each of the six districts has a vote. Members can submit proposals or submit them on behalf of the board.
From there, any proposal that would result in changes to the organization's bylaws or constitution would have to go through several additional steps, said Bob Reznicek, the board's outgoing chairman. If a policy were approved at every step of that process, it could take effect for the 2014-15 school year. Some, however, specify a longer implementation period.
Rhonda Blanford-Green, the association's executive director, said taking a proposal through that process is a positive.
“This really gives the membership some kind of stake in the equity process,” she said.
Having a policy in place, she said, would allow the board and whoever is serving as executive director to handle cases as they arise.
Blanford-Green serves as the chairwoman of the National Federation of High School Associations' citizenship and equity committee. In that role, she said she has been getting calls and emails from across the country from state associations seeking information about equity issues, including those dealing with participation and gender identity.
One just came from South Dakota. Iowa currently is working on a policy. Minnesota has one but is seeking to update it.
Blanford-Green said she expects to hear during today's meeting from a Nebraska school administrator seeking direction about what to do if a transgender student asks to participate. That administrator's district has a transgender student enrolled.
Blanford-Green had said in June that a policy drafted last year would come to the board for a formal vote Wednesday. She previously had told The World-Herald that the board had approved the policy in December, although it did not appear in the meeting's minutes.
Reznicek said that board had discussed the topic in December but did not take a formal vote.
She said Tuesday that the situation was the result of a “miscommunication of process.”
Going through the legislative process, she said, will open the door for discussion. “Why not include the members?” she asked. “Why not include the membership on what a policy means and allow them to move forward on it?”
Reznicek agreed Tuesday that the topic is one that calls for more education. “As a board,” he said, “we're still getting educated on the topic.”