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California to Halt Physical Tests Due to Transphobia, Body-Shaming Fears

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California governor has proposed to end physical tests for students out of fears that some students may be experiencing bullying in the form of body-shaming or abuse relating to gender identification.

The proposal led by Gov. Gavin Newsom would abandon physical fitness tests until at least 2024 to investigate whether the mandatory physical tests for those in Grade 5, 7, and 9 would reduce body shaming or transphobia, according to Fox News.

The mandatory physical test examines students’ aerobic capacity, flexibility, upper body strength, and other physical abilities, according to Politico.

California is to consult fitness, health, and gender identity experts as well as students during the suspension of the mandatory testing to ascertain “the purpose and administration of the physical performance test,” as stated in the bill.

During the period of suspension, the department shall consult with experts and
other stakeholders, including but not limited to, individuals with expertise in fitness, adaptive
physical education, gender identity, and students with disabilities, in order to provide
recommendations regarding the purpose and administration of the physical performance test.

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Newsom’s Department of Finance spokesperson, H.D. Palmer, reported that the current test discriminated against disabled and non-binary students following a number of complaints from parents, because the test included a BMI segment and was only extended to male and female participants–excluding those who identified as non-binary.

On the proposal, Palmer said:

“Dispelling myths, breaking down stereotypes and improving school climate is one way California is working to keep all students safe and healthy, consistent with the Governor’s commitment to a California that respects all students.

“Given the body of research on the impacts of bullying on transgender and special education students, during this period of suspension, it’s important to take this pause and determine whether the current test can be modified or whether a new assessment should be developed.”

The Federal Government has promoted physical tests for decades, with California requiring mandatory fitness tests for students since 1996, according to Fox News.

A whopping 40% of students failed to pass the physical tests.

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