Dear Bulletin Editor,

Recently two editorials appeared in the local paper addressing competition in sports by transgender athletes. This is an important topic that is being debated at both the national and state levels. Because this is a complex and developing issue, I’d like to briefly explain where ESU stands on this matter. Emporia State University holds to several principles when it comes to athletic competitions and the environment we strive to create on campus.

First, every student who wishes to compete should have the right to do so. Athletics competition is an important part of socialization, just like theatre, band, debate or the science club. Participation in athletics can create a sense of belonging.  

Second, competition should be fair and equitable. The Sport Science Institute of the NCAA, which has studied this issue for many years, has developed criteria to allow for fair competition based on current scientific evidence. The SSI continues to monitor the developing science. As an NCAA institution, ESU is fully committed to following the NCAA guidelines on this issue.       

Third, ESU supports all students, faculty and staff regardless of their gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, race, age, faith, political ideology, beliefs or any other characteristic that makes you uniquely you. We take seriously our Strategic Plan goal to be a model of diversity, equity and inclusion. ESU is here to support everyone in our community.

Fourth, ESU is committed to, and legally bound by, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. As a university, we are committed to being a place where issues can be explored and discussed. We are fortunate to have the benefit of the many lived experiences and academic disciplines on our campus to inform broader understanding. 

Some issues and discussions will bring up strong feelings, therefore it is important to engage respectfully and with care. Acceptance and inclusion are powerful bonds in any community; likewise lack of acceptance and inclusion drive a wedge between people. ESU is committed to creating an environment where different viewpoints and robust discussion can occur so learning and growth may take place.  

A few inches of text in a newspaper can be helpful in teeing up an issue, but it is not the ideal venue for discussion. Important topics deserve respectful study, exploration and conversation on our campus. To that end, I have asked Dr. Aswad Allen, ESU’s Chief Diversity Officer, to convene conversations around these issues as we continue our work toward becoming a campus that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion.  

Students who need additional support and counseling should contact the Student Wellness Center at 620-341-5222. Support groups for members of the LGBTQ+ community and Allies are available — details are available on Hornet Life. Employees who need counseling services should contact the Employee Assistance Program at (888) 275-1205.

Sincerely,

Allison Garrett

President

Emporia State University

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