Sports and physical activities

Sport can play a major role in many students’ lives, and not only improves mental and physical health, but builds a young person’s social skills and their ability to develop healthy relationships.

Under 12 years old

The Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act contains no exemption to support gender segregation of children under the age of 12 in sport. This means that children of any gender may participate in any sport they choose. For example, an eight-year-old girl may freely join the under 9 boys in rugby, and cannot be refused a place in the team because of being female. Likewise, a boy may play a traditionally female sport, such as netball.

A gender fluid or non-binary student should be invited to participate with whichever gender  they feel more comfortable.

One exception is in the case of a competition formed to advance the interests of a minority group in a particular sport. For example, a girls’ rugby union competition can exclude boys because the aim of the competition is to advance females in a traditionally male sport. A trans female student would be entitled to join that team.

12 years old and over

You may have heard it said that trans and gender diverse students have a physical advantage over other students in sport, particularly male-to-female transgender athletes. While this may occasionally be true, under Queensland laws students cannot be excluded from school sport on the basis of their gender identity.

The unfair advantage arguments have been made about students of particular racial background (such as Sudanese basketballers being at a height advantage, or Maori rugby players having a size advantage) and are irrelevant and offensive in that situation too. If any student has a physical advantage in a sport they are otherwise entitled to participate in, that is ordinarily encouraged and celebrated, and trans and gender diverse students who are good at, and enjoy, sports should have their participation facilitated as fully as possible.

For competitive sporting activities, in Queensland it is only lawful to restrict participation to either males or females if the restriction is reasonable having regard to the strength, stamina or physique requirements of the activity.

What constitutes competitive sport is not prescribed by legislation, but intra-school sport (i.e. sports played with other students of the school, such as PE lessons or athletics carnivals) would not be considered competitive. Social grade sport is also generally open to everyone. What is considered competitive sport will depend on the particular circumstances.

In summary, there are very limited exceptions in the law that can allow a school to restrict trans and gender diverse people’s participation in sports. Schools should consider an approach that takes into account the many social and health benefits of everyone participating fully in sporting activities. The most inclusive and least restrictive approach is encouraged.

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