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Oklahoma schools now require 'biological sex affidavit' for student athletes

Oklahoma is one of 18 states that have enacted measures requiring students to participate on the sports team that matches their sex assigned at birth.

Oklahoma public schools have started requiring students from kindergarten to college to complete "biological sex affidavits" if they want to compete in school sports, in accordance with a state law that took effect earlier this year.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill in March that bans transgender student athletes in public elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges from competing on the sports teams of their gender identity as opposed to their sex assigned at birth.

A photo of an affidavit required by Woodall Public Schools went viral Wednesday after Erin Matson, executive director of abortion rights group Reproaction, shared it on Twitter.

"This has nothing to do with encouraging girls to be athletes," Matson wrote. "This is totalitarianism. It is the white nationalist agenda. The anti-LGBTQ agenda. The anti-abortion agenda. It is all the same agenda."

The document, which is part of Woodall Public Schools’ 2022-2023 athletic policy, requires a parent or guardian to attest to their child’s sex assigned at birth and requires that it be notarized.

The address on the affidavit matches Woodall Elementary School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, about an hour southeast of Tulsa.

Ginger Knight, superintendent at Woodall Public Schools, confirmed via email that the district is required by state law to have students complete the form if they want to participate in athletics, but Knight had no additional comment.

After the governor signed the bill in March, Oklahoma was the 13th state nationwide to enact such a bill. Now, 18 states have enacted similar measures.

Nearly all of those states designate sports teams by sex assigned at birth as determined by the student's birth certificate issued at or near the time of their birth.

Oklahoma is the only state so far to require an affidavit to prove a student's assigned sex. If a student is under 18, the affidavit can be completed by a legal guardian or parent. Once a student reaches 18, they have to sign the affidavit themselves. The law requires that a new affidavit be completed ahead of every school year.

Two other states can require an affidavit or sworn statements in some cases.

In Kentucky, for example, a student's assigned sex can be determined by their "original, unedited birth certificate" or via an affidavit "signed and sworn to by the physician, physician assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, or chiropractor under penalty of perjury."

Under Idaho's law, which a judge blocked in August 2020, a student's sex can be disputed. If that happens, the school can request that the student provide a form from their health care provider to "verify the student's biological sex... as part of a routine sports physical examination relying only on one (1) or more of the following: the student's reproductive anatomy, genetic makeup, or normal endogenously produced testosterone levels."

Proponents of trans athlete bans argue that they help ensure fairness for cisgender female athletes, while LGBTQ rights advocates say the measures violate the civil rights of trans people.

Some LGBTQ people on Twitter condemned Woodall Public Schools' affidavits.

"With a notary requirement — this is not ONLY incredibly transphobic, but is going to have the impact of preventing lower socioeconomic status kids from participating," one person wrote.

Another person wrote that requiring "notarized affidavits attesting to the genital composition of individual elementary schoolers is a disgusting invasion of privacy and is predatory and discriminatory."

In compliance with the new state law, other Oklahoma public schools have created similar forms.

The Education Department issued guidance last year that said it will interpret Title IX, a federal law that protects students from sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools, to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination.

At the time, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told ESPN that he understands concerns about fairness in sports, “but we do have a responsibility to protect the civil rights of students, and if we feel the civil rights are being violated, we will act.”

The Biden administration's Title IX directive is on hold after a federal judge in Tennessee blocked it earlier this month, ruling that it would make it impossible for some states to enforce their own laws on transgender athlete participation and use of restrooms.

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