GLSEN’s Transgender Inclusion in High School Athletics

The ability to participate fully in school life is critical for transgender students’ wellbeing during adolescence. For students in general, having the opportunity to participate in sports results in positive outcomes—better grades, greater homework completion, higher educational and occupational aspirations, and improved self-esteem. For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) students, GLSEN reports show that athletes have a GPA that is between 0.2 and 0.4 points higher on a 4.0 scale than students not participating in athletics.

Furthermore, 56% of LGBTQ team members and 66% of team leaders competing in high school sports report feeling a positive sense of belonging at school. Despite this encouraging data, many states and school districts struggle with the issue of inclusion in athletics. In 2019, 20 states have policies that ensure transgender students can participate in sports on a team or in competition based on their gender identity. 17 states have policies that prohibit participation by transgender student athletes and 13 states have no standard, public policies that guide transgender inclusion in sport. Read the Policy Brief and the Model High School Athletics Policy.

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