The Nebraska School Activities Association’s Board of Directors has adopted a policy that allows students, under certain circumstances, to participate in sports activities according to their gender preference.  This policy is detrimental to those students who experience gender dysphoria, violates the rights of other students, creates confusion among young people concerning sexual identity, and establishes a dangerous public policy precedent in the State of Nebraska.  The policy is contrary to Catholic teaching about the human person and therefore also could jeopardize the religious liberty of our Catholic NSAA member schools and conscience rights of public school officials.

The NSAA Representative Assembly held on April 8th failed to reinstate the policy that students participate in activities according to their sex at birth. Out of a total of 51 delegates, 23 voted in favor of the proposal and 27 opposed it. There was one abstention. Eight more votes were needed to approve the proposal.

The vote outcome demonstrates that the NSAA is divided about this issue. It is unfortunate that the position of the Board of Directors and a minority of schools has overridden the position of the majority of NSAA member schools.  The Nebraska Catholic Conference will continue to engage on this issue and to inform you of future developments.

The Nebraska Bishops issued a statement following the NSAA Representative Assembly:

We deeply regret that the NSAA Representative Assembly did not approve the “sex on the certificate at birth” proposal.

Any person who experiences gender dysphoria is entitled to the respect that is the right of every human person, as well as genuine concern and the support needed for personal development and well-being.  Such support, however, must be provided with due consideration to fairness; the safety, privacy, and rights of all students; and the truth about the human person.

The failure of the delegates’ vote to reflect the position of the majority of member schools – including public schools – expressed at the January district meetings is contrary to what one would expect of a “member-driven organization.”

The Catholic member schools of the NSAA, through the Nebraska Catholic Conference, will continue to urge the NSAA to rescind the Board of Directors’ policy and to require that students participate in NSAA activities according to their sex at birth.  Recognizing the truth about each person’s biological sex, and basing policies upon that fundamental truth, would serve the best interest of Nebraska’s students, families and schools.

Most Rev. George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha                                                                         
Most Rev. James D. Conley, Bishop of Lincoln                                                                             
Most Rev. Joseph G. Hanefeldt, Bishop of Grand Island

Information about the NSAA Transgender Participation Policy

In the fall of 2016, the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) began considering a new policy for whether and how students who experience gender dysphoria (known as transgender students) may participate in NSAA sports and other activities according to their subjective gender identity (in other words, a biological male who identifies as a female and wishes to participate on a girls’ team, or a biological female who identifies as a male and wishes to participate on a boys’ team).

On January 6th and 13th, 2016, the member schools of the NSAA met in their respective districts to vote on proposed policies for the participation of transgender students. Districts 2, 4, 5 and 6 approved a proposal that all students participate according to the sex indicated on their birth certificate (the “sex at birth” proposal).  The final consideration and vote on this proposal took place  at the NSAA Representative Assembly on April 8, 2016.

The record of how each NSAA member school voted at the January district meeting is provided below:

District 1 (Lincoln)– The “sex at birth” proposal failed:  yes – 19; no – 27;  2 – abstain.  Voting record

District 2 (Omaha) — The “sex at birth” proposal was passed by a vote yes – 50; no – 25; abstain – 1.    Voting record

District 3 (Norfolk) — The “sex at birth” proposal failed by a vote yes – 21; no – 26; abstain – 6.     Voting record

District 4 (Kearney) — The “sex at birth” proposal was passed:  yes – 47; no – 7; abstain – 3.  Voting record

District 5  (Holdrege)The “sex at birth” proposal was passed:  yes – 15; no – 8; abstain – 1.      Voting record

District 6 (Alliance) — The “sex at birth” proposal was passed:  yes – 17; no – 9; abstain – 1.   Voting record

However, the NSAA Board of Directors, who represent the member schools from the respective districts, voted at their meeting on January 14th by a margin of 6 – 2 to adopt the Gender Participation Policy (GPP). The GPP, which went into effect immediately, allows students who can demonstrate a “consistent” gender identity opposite from the sex on their original birth certificate to participate in NSAA sports according to their gender preference.  Although the NSAA as an organization prides itself on being “member driven,” one board member representing District 2 and other board members representing Districts 5 and 6 voted contrary to the position expressed by a majority of their member schools at their district meeting.

The “sex at birth” proposal failed to pass at the Representative Assembly on April 8th.  Therefore, the Board’s Gender Participation Policy is now the permanent policy of the NSAA.

A list of delegates to the Representative Assembly and how each one voted can be found here.



The statement issued by Nebraska’s Bishops  on January 4, is available here and on January 14, 2016, in response to the NSAA Board of Directors’ approval of the Gender Participation Policy, is available here.

Nebraska Bishops’ Statement prior to the vote at the NSAA Representative Assembly can be found here.


The Diocese of Lincoln Family Life Office has sponsored three talks, entitled “Understanding Gender Identity: Tools for Informed Conversation,” related to the NSAA debate:

  • Anthropology and Gender Ideology – Fr. Sean Kilcawley
  • Gender Identity and Child Development – Cody Hollist, LMFT, Ph.D.
  • The NSAA and Transgender Student Participation – Greg Schleppenbach & Karen Bowling

These presentations are available on the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln YouTube channel and the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln Facebook page.


  • gender dysphoria, and the gender identity ideology and its potential impact on school children in grades K – 12, click here,
  • potential for litigation and other legal issues, click here.

For information about the Catholic Church’s response to the gender identity ideology, click here.


The NCC supported the “sex at birth” bylaw proposal. For information about the “sex at birth” bylaw proposal, click here.

The NCC opposes the NSAA Gender Participation Policy (GPP). For information about the GPP, click here.


  • Comment by the Nebraska Constitutional Officers Commending the District 6 Vote:


  • Select Resources from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:


News article about a homily given by Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, Bishop of Regensburg, Germany, on October 31, 2015:  http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/bishop-breaks-with-fellow-germans-to-oppose-gender-theory-24199/

Comments delivered by Sheri Rickert, NCC Policy Director and General Counsel, to the NSAA Board of Directors at their October 2015 meeting are available here, and her comments at their November meeting are available here.

Articles by Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at John Hopkins Hospital:

Other related articles: