High schools in Cherokee County, North Carolina, have canceled volleyball matches against one school after a transgender athlete (a boy living as a girl) injured another girl at a recent game.
The injury occurred last month when a Highlands High volleyball player made a spike and smashed a Hiwassee Dam High player in the forehead, causing severe head injuries.
“The Hiwassee Dam player, a biological girl, suffered severe head and neck injuries, resulting in long-term concussion symptoms, including vision problems. The girl has still not yet been cleared to play again by her primary care physician or a neurologist,” reported Education First Alliance.
The Cherokee County Board of Education then voted 5-1 to declare a “safety issue” and canceled all games against Highlands High after coach and Cherokee Board Member Joe Wood said he had “never seen a hit like this before.
“I’ll never put a child in a position to be seriously injured,” Wood said. “I think the odds (of injury) in these non-contact sports aren’t high. But in particular, in this meeting, a coach of 40 years said they’d never seen a hit like this. That was really what sealed the decision, at least on my part.”
Cherokee Vice Chair Jeff Martin said that the “board wasn’t searching out this kind of thing” and that it had been brought to their attention based on “safety concerns.”
Board member Jeff Tatham said the video of the injury also swayed the decision.
“The biggest thing for us, especially after seeing the video of the injury, we felt very strongly that it was a safety concern,” Tatham said. “I think most of the board members also felt like there’s a competitive advantage issue.
Cherokee County School Board member Arnold Mathews told reporters that the decision will not affect other athletics in the school district.
“We reached out to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, who says, ‘It is the understanding of the NCHSAA that a local school system governs its athletic programs and at any time can determine for whatever reason that a school or team cannot play another school or team,’” said Matthews.