Biological male poses risk to female high school volleyball players, N.C. School Board declares

by mcardinal

Megan Udinski, FISM News



A North Carolina school board announced their volleyball teams will forfeit games against a local school after a transgender player injured a biological female a month ago.

On September 21, the Cherokee County Board of Education voted 5-1 for the Hiwassee Dam High School girls’ volleyball team to abstain from playing all games against Highlands School “due to safety concerns.”

A biological female on the Hiwassee Dam team received a damaging blow to the head from a spike hit by a biological male on the Highlands team during a match. 

According to the school board meeting minutes, “The County will not participate in any volleyball games, varsity or junior varsity, against Highlands due to safety concerns.”

David Payne, Athletic Director of Hiwassee Dam, suggested to the Board that “a statement needed to be made and that it’s unfair and unsafe” to play against Highlands School based on mixed feelings by athletes and their parents after the injury.

Coaches Jordan Lovingood and Amanda Johnson of the Murphy High volleyball team reported that none of their athletes or parents were concerned for their safety playing against Highlands and that they wanted to continue competing against the school. Johnson addressed the idea that there is some inherent risk whenever playing a sport and that is no reason to stop playing.

Lovingood rhetorically asked, “If they are slated to play a team with a player who is 100% girl, and this player hits the ball harder than the player in question, should that game be forfeited?”

The vice chair, Dr. Jeff Martin, stated his personal opinion that “there is a competitive advantage and a safety concern for certain teams — it’s not the same for all teams.”

Board member Steve Coleman pointed out the inevitable conclusion to the situation that “the Board should make a stand because if it isn’t addressed now, it’s possible in the future that a Cherokee County team could face a team with all biological males playing; and if this isn’t addressed there is a risk for biological male students taking over women’s sports.”

Lovingood emphasized the potential impact the board’s decision could have toward the Highlands transgender student,  indicating the schools are teaching inclusion and acceptance and felt the decision not to play Highlands would be based on sex. 

While that is certainly a factor in the board’s decision-making, several members including Joe Wood clarified the decision was solely based on safety, and Mr. Ellis added that the issue must be addressed due to an injured young lady. 

The topic of sports being played based on biology rather than identity is to be addressed in an upcoming Athletic Association meeting. 

Conflict surrounding transgender athletes, specifically biological males competing in female sports, has made national headlines this year because of transgender collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas, and the inherent differences between male and female biologies will continue to be a topic of conversation with regard to sports as long as there are people who desire to protect and defend women.