A Christian school in Maryland has left the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference over the organization's rules that allow transgender athletes to compete as the gender to which they identify.
Grace Brethren Christian School, a pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade school in Prince George's County, said that the league's policy didn't align with the school's Biblical principles, The Washington Post reported.
"We are a Christian school and hold to the biblical teaching from Genesis 1:27 and other related passages which states, 'So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them,'" GBCS school director George Hornickel told the Washington Post in a statement. "This is how it has been throughout the history of the world, and we believe there are only two sexes: male and female."
In February, PVAC passed its new policy which reads,"Every student-athlete should have the opportunity to participate in PVAC activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity."
GBCS had already planned to leave the conference in spring because of travel demands from its school in Southern Prince George's County to other campuses in the Washington metropolitan area but it sped up the process over the transgender issue, according to International Dateline, a student-run newspaper Washington International Christian School.
What did GBCS say?
Allowing boys to compete as girls on a sports team is a "form of cheating," Hornickel told the Post.
It "gives them an advantage over girls teams who only play female athletes," he added.
Last fall, PVAC began allowing boys who identify as female to play on girls' teams without any discussion or a vote as required by league rules, Hornickel claimed.
"When guys identifying as transgender girls begin making up the rosters of female teams, girls who otherwise could have started are now coming off the bench, and girls who were the reserves may not make the teams," Hornickel explained.
What did PVAC say?
PVAC President Taisto Saloma told the newspaper that the league is committed to "honoring everyone's identity."
Saloma, who is also the athletic director at the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, Maryland, said the league held discussions in June 2016 about the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports.
"It's something we've, in this year in particular, spent a lot of time talking about: How can we make sure we are doing that in a space that is changing and evolving, as it is becoming more apparent to all of us as educators and people who work in schools?" Saloma said in a statement to the Post.
The school now participates in the Maryland Independent School Athletic League where athletes must compete on teams that match their gender at birth, according to the report.