Ads Draw Protest in Minn. Debate on Transgender Students’ Sports Participation

By Mark Walsh — December 04, 2014 1 min read
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Some Minnesota high school students are targeting the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for protest after the newspaper accepted advertisements from a group that opposes letting transgendered students play on school sports teams of their affirmed gender identity.

The ads by the Minnesota Child Protection League sought to influence a policy decision on transgendered students’ athletic participation by the Minnesota State High School League, the school sports governing body.

A full-page ad that ran in the Star-Tribune in September (displayed in a Minneapolis City Pages blog report here) asks, “A male student wants to shower beside your 14-year-old daughter. Are YOU ok with that?”

Another ad (included in this report by Media Matters) by the Child Protection League that appeared in the Star-Tribune this past Sunday, as well as in the Duluth News Tribune and the St. Cloud Times, says, “The End of Girls’ Sports? Her dreams of a scholarship shattered, your 14-year-old daughter just lost her position on an all-girl team to a man ... and now she may have to shower with him.”

The MSHSL on Thursday approved a policy that allows transgendered students to participate in school sports on the team of their gender identity. Religious schools would be exempt.

The Star-Tribune reported on Wednesday that some 2,800 people had signed a student-organized petition calling on the newspaper to apologize for accepting and running the ads from the Child Protection League. The paper’s Class Act education blog quoted Zeam Porter, a high school student who was organizing the protest, as saying, “The ad perpetuates negative roles of female-bodied individuals as well as erases trans* identities and promotes discrimination.”

A Facebook page calls for a protest outside the Star-Tribunes offices at 4 p.m. Central time on Friday, Dec. 5.

A spokesman for the newspaper did not immediately return a call seeking comment. In September, after the full-page ad ran, Star-Tribune spokesman Steve Yaeger told the publication City Pages Minneapolis that “the ad in question met all the requirements of our ad policy.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.