Point Park Sports says it will remain inclusive, fair as more states pass legislation banning transgender athletes

Written By Tiara Strong, For The Globe

With many governors signing bills that ban transgender women from playing on teams with cisgender women, it leaves the question of where Point Park University stands on the inclusivity of the transgender community in sports. 

Some people and lawmakers feel that by allowing women’s sports to be inclusive of transgender women, it is putting an end to “girls’ sports.” States such as Idaho, Tennessee, Mississippi, and South Dakota have already passed the “Fairness Act.” Who is next?

Point Park officials say that the school prides itself on inclusivity for every and anyone. However, the Point Park student-athlete 2020-2021 handbook, which is updated on a yearly basis, does not mention people who identify as trans or anything pertaining to that subject. 

The inclusion of transgender athletes in Point Park sports is not something that has come up since an athlete who identifies as trans has never played for the school before. Therefore, how would a potential situation like this be handled? 

The answer is simple, as long as students meet the educational requirements, gender assigned at birth will not be a determining factor of a student not being allowed to partake in athletics here at Point Park. At least for now.

President of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), Mark Emmert, has received backlash for not pulling championship games from states that have banned transgender athletes. Although Pennsylvania has yet to pass a Fairness Act, the idea has been brought up and toyed with by GOP lawmakers. 

A poll released by Politico and Morning Consult on the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports was released in March of 2021. The survey concluded 53 percent of those that responded are in support of bans on transgender athletes in sports. 

With many people questioning the physical components of allowing transgender women to play with cisgender women on sports teams, there are questions and concerns about fairness. Point Park remains neutral in all of this. Some people on and off sports teams at Point Park share the same opinion.

Michelle Burns, a student-athlete at Point Park, is a part of the women’s basketball team. Burns believes as long as rules are in place to ensure fairness, there is a place for anyone on the team. 

“No one should be discriminated against,” Burns said.

Burns has never been in a situation where she had to play on a team or against a team with transgender women. However, she says that if she did, that would not be an issue as long as all of the components are there to make sure student-athletes can compete fairly.

In his first day as President, Joe Biden, signed an executive order protecting and prohibiting discrimination of those in the LGBTQ+ community. This executive order urged agencies to reverse any discriminatory regulations and to reword the verbiage of the word “sex.” Instead of the word “sex,” it is to include sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Tony Grenek, head women’s basketball coach, acknowledges that while everyone may have their own opinions on transgender athletes’ place in school sports, there really is one deciding factor. That is following the rules and regulations of NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and NCAA. 

“I’m going to follow whatever rules of my workplace,” Grenek said.

John Ashaolu, Director of Athletics, says that he makes sure that student-athletes receive training that touches on the inclusivity of everyone in sports during the athletes’ orientation phase. The university’s Title IX coordinator speaks to the student-athletes on those topics and biases. 

“As a department, we have an inclusive nature, and that is how we are going to continue to operate,” Ashaolu said.

Ashaolu acknowledges that although he sees a trend with many states moving to ban transgender athletes from school sports, it is not something that he sees happening in Pennsylvania. He says that he stands with his students and believes in equal opportunities for all.

“We support our students’ rights to express themselves,” Ashaolu said.

As more and more schools and universities move to ban transgender athletes from playing with cisgender athletes, athletic officials at Point Park say that the school will not join in on this trend. They say that Point Park prides itself on its inclusivity and diversity, and that is not going to change.