Aayden Gallagher accepts her gold medal at Oregon's state championship in May. | Anonymous reader

In May, a transgender girl in Oregon raced to a state championship at 200 meters and was met with boos. A rival coach who had an athlete defeat that state champion in a close victory at the same meet claims he was fired by his school district over letters he wrote to the Oregon School Activities Assn. and a state senator objecting to her being allowed to compete in the girls’ division.

Lake Oswego High School head track coach John Parks, whose girls’ team won the overall title in Class 6A last month, told Portland television station KATU that his concerns were raised with the knowledge and endorsement of the Lake Oswego School District and states he wants to see a system that is “fairer for everybody.”

“I want to see it transformed into a situation where they [trans student-athletes] have a separate division, may it be an open category or compete as junior varsity athletes,” Parks said to KATU over the inclusion policy. “When it comes to championship level events, these things involve scholarship and involve unfair advantages when it comes to the highest level when it comes to physical things.”

According to the Oregonian newspaper, Parks sent the letters on May 15, two days before the start of the state championship meet. The newspaper reported that one letter stated, “Allowing this travesty to be carried out is making a complete mockery of the meet this weekend and in the future until the rules are altered to protect natural-born females.”

Parks said that the athlete in question, Portland McDaniel High School sophomore Aayden Gallagher, would be a strong contender in both the events she would contest at 200 meters and 400 meters. He also wrote that Gallagher being a sophomore means that she would threaten state records if allowed to compete in her junior and senior years.

In the state meet, Gallagher won the 200 meters. She also lost in a close 400-meter final to Lake Oswego senior Josie Donelson, who broke the girls’ state record in the event, while Gallagher finished second in the second-fastest 400 meters in state history.

Parks’ letter drew a countercomplaint from Portland Public Schools Athletic Director Marshall Haskins on May 24, which led to the coach being dismissed, according to the Oregonian. Haskins alleged that Parks was urging fans at the state meet to antagonize Gallagher and said the coach made Gallagher feel “unwelcome and discriminated against” throughout the entire season.

“I was appalled, disappointed and embarrassed for Lake Oswego and Salem Keizer School districts because of the behavior of one of your employees,” Haskins’ email to the school districts reads.

Haskins also accused Parks of contacting parents statewide seeking protest against Gallagher being allowed to participate and accused Parks of making those contacts in hopes of “forcing them to participate in his personal agenda.” 

Parks, through his attorney, denied the allegations and stated that an investigation by the Lake Oswego School District found Haskins’ allegations to be “hearsay and erroneous.”

However, a different claim by Haskins of Parks directly making a disparaging comment to Gallagher on the medal stand at the state meet also had a second source. That unnamed source told the Oregonian that Parks said to Gallagher, “It will never be a fair race if you’re in it.”

The OSAA transgender inclusion policy allows transgender student-athletes to compete in the activity that aligns with their gender identity and is in line with Oregon state law and federal law. In April, a group of Republican state senators wrote a letter to OSAA calling for the governing body to ban transgender girls from girls’ high school sports after Gallagher won at a meet a week before. Those same elected officials say they plan to try to pass a “Save Women Sports Act” similar to the measures that are currently law in 25 states.