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Player injury sparks bill to ban transgender players from female sports in North Carolina

Images: WLOS file photo, Cherokee County Schools' website.
Images: WLOS file photo, Cherokee County Schools' website.
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UPDATE (April 20th, 2023):

A Cherokee County volleyball player who says she got a concussion last year after a spike by a player she says is transgender wants to prevent other girls from having the same experience.

It stems from a game between Highlands High School and Hiwassee Dam late last year.

Lawmakers in North Carolina are now using Payton McNabb's story to try to ban girls who identify as transgender from participating on female sports teams.

Wednesday a bill making that change passed in the state House.

It includes middle, high school, and college teams.

McNabb has become one of the bill's biggest supporters.

"I may be the first, but I won't be the last," says McNabb.

County teams were forced to forfeit their games against the Highlands High for the rest of the season after the injury.

Cherokee County Schools told us they pulled out of the games "due to safety concerns."

Critics of the bill say this is the only example of an injury involving a transgender student.

They also argue injuries like this happen in sports all the time.

The bill now has to pass in the Senate before moving to the governor.

EARLIER (October 4th, 2022):

All girls' volleyball teams in the Cherokee County school district will forfeit upcoming regular season games against one competitor due to a recent player injury, according to Cherokee County School Board member Arnold Mathews.

Mathews told us in an email on Tuesday that the board determined the varsity and junior varsity teams in the district won't play the Highlands School volleyball team "due to safety concerns," Mathews said.

That decision came after a Hiwassee Dam High School volleyball player got neck and head injuries when a Highlands athlete spiked a ball, which "forcefully struck" the athlete in the head, says Mathews.

Mathews says this decision does not affect any other sports or teams in the 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."

They say safety and venue size can be factors.

"While we would prefer that schools or teams play all games it schedules, that latitude does exist," says NCHSAA.

In Cherokee County, residents have strong opinions about the cancellation.

"All the events for one incident... it’s not right. There’s risk getting out of bed in the morning, crossing the street, and going to the store," says resident Tony Graham. "I'm sure the teammate that did get hurt, wants them to go out there and fight for it, right? That's what we do."

Depend on us to bring you updates as we get them.

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