The following is a press release from the Framingham Public Schools, issued today, May 22.
FRAMINGHAM – Diversity is a huge part of the foundation that differentiates the Framingham community and school system and as of March 13, 2018, it is celebrated on and off the field.
In March, the Framingham School Committee unanimously passed an updated policy to ensure that all students shall have the opportunity to participate in Framingham Public Schools athletics and/or co-curricular activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s records and without prior medical or mental health care.
The philosophy within the Framingham Inclusive Sports Participation Policy states, “Interscholastic athletic and co-curricular participation are valuable to students’ physical, intellectual, social, and/or character development and accordingly, we value inclusion. Guided by this value and in compliance with all applicable laws, our policy ensures that students can participate in athletics and co-curricular activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity.”
The policy provides a common vocabulary to encourage respectful communication amongst administrators, school staff, volunteers, students and others who interact with students, and also includes definition to ensure inclusion in areas such as changing areas, hotel rooms, language (affirmed names and pronouns), dress codes and team uniforms, competitions at another school, and training and education for students and staff.
Bringing the policy across the finish line took time and effort from several areas including The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), GLAD Legal Advocates and Defenders, OUT Metrowest, Julie Williams (Department Head, Health and Physical Education at Framingham High School), Carolyn Banach (Principal at Framingham High School), the School Health Advisory Committee, and the Athletics Department at Framingham High School.
This policy is the first for Massachusetts and one of the first of its kind in the country.
Julie Williams, Health and Physical Education Department Chair at Framingham High School was particularly close to this effort. “Creating safe and supportive environments is something I am passionate about,” she said, “especially when those environments involve physical activity. When the idea of this policy was proposed, I looked into the model policy “All 50” from the LGBT Sports Foundation. We started with that policy and customized it to fit for Framingham Public Schools. Chris Mosier from “You Can Play” directed us to the model policy. We had input and support for a variety of sources which included parents and students. We are fortunate in Framingham to have Administration and a School Committee that understands and supports this work. What is great about this policy is that it follows the student-athletes off campus. The challenge will be to have other schools across the state adopt similar policies so that it becomes commonplace and a part of the culture of sports everywhere.”
According to Framingham High School Athletic Director Paul Spear, the policy will impact students beyond their participation in school sports. “It’s about people,” he said “It’s about making people feel included, making people feel good about themselves, giving students the opportunity to excel in whatever their interests are and knowing that the school where they participate and perform has their back. It’s also about educating people, creating an atmosphere that’s safe for everybody and that this kind of support is part of the culture and the way we do things here in Framingham.”