Fairhaven High Requiring Student-Athletes To Sign MIAA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Pledge

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2022/08/19/fairhaven-high-requiring-student-athletes-to-sign-miaas-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-pledge/

Students who want to to play a sport at Fairhaven High School this fall must sign a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion pledge and take an implicit bias training course.

The pledge was created by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association; the implicit bias training course is from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Fairhaven student-athletes must register online using Family ID. The sign up form asks for a myriad of information about the student-athlete and their parents. 

One field on the online form requires student-athletes and a parent or guardian to click a box saying they agree to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion pledge; they’re also required to provide an electronic signature.

There’s no option to skip this part of the form; the asterisk indicates it’s a required field.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association introduced its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion pledge last winter. However, the organization does not require students to assent to it. The Fairhaven requirement is particular to that school district.

“At this time, there are no consequences from the MIAA for failure to take the pledge or the course,” says an April 2022 letter from Thomas Costello, a lawyer at Stoneman, Chandler & Miller, a law firm in Boston that represents the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, shared with NewBostonPost earlier this year. 

The letter is addressed to the Massachusetts Family Institute, which opposes the pledge, saying it amounts to compelled speech. That organization contacted the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association seeking clarification on how the pledge would be enforced.

The MIAA, as the organization is commonly known, governs interscholastic sports for the vast majority of public and private schools in Massachusetts.

The MIAA’s pledge includes a promise to support “the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Sportsmanship and Game Officials Committees’ policy/programs within the MIAA.” That includes programs promoting what the organization calls “Gender equity” and “Inclusion of LGBTQ students, coaches and administrators.”

Students who sign Fairhaven’s pledge promise to do the following:


1. Help create and foster a safe environment within the school community, which includes the responsible use of social media.

2. Consistently model respect and tolerance by setting an example of good sportsmanship and positive behavior, including language (body and spoken), gestures, signs, and overtures.

3. Not enable my fellow student-athletes who use abusive language, signs, gestures, or overtures. I will not cover up for them or lie for them if any rules are broken.

4. Hold myself, my fellow student-athletes, and our community responsible and accountable for their actions.

5. Seek information and assistance in dealing with my own or my fellow student athlete’s negative behaviors, problems, or concerns.

6. Be open and honest with my coach and other school personnel when the best interest of myself, my fellow student-athletes, and my school are being jeopardized.

7. Thrive to create a school without hate.

8. Support the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Sportsmanship and Game Officials Committees’ policy/programs within the MIAA, Fairhaven High School, and all school functions.


“Inclusion” as defined by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association includes letting students who identify as transgender compete on teams meant for the opposite sex.

Here is what the MIAA’s web site lists as its “Major DEI Programs”:


Racial and ethnic diversity;

Gender equity

Inclusion of LGBTQ students, coaches and administrators;

and Inclusion of students, coaches and administrators who have disabilities


Additionally, the association’s gender identity policy says that student-athletes must have “equal opportunities to participate in MIAA athletic programs consistent with their gender identity.” It notes that this gender identity may differ from the one listed on the student-athlete’s birth certificate.

The athletic association introduced the pledge after a few high school sports-related scandals in the state.

It was revealed last November that members of the 2019-2020 Danvers High School boys’ hockey team engaged in hazing incidents involving racial abuse, anti-homosexual language, and violent conduct. In October 2021, members of the Cathedral High School football team (of the South End of Boston) alleged that members of the St. John Paul II School football team (of Hyannis) used racial slurs against them during a game. And in March 2021, the Duxbury High School football team was caught using anti-Semitic language in its play calls; head coach Dave Maimaron was fired as a result.

Following the news about the Danvers incident, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s then-new executive director, Bob Baldwin, said it was time for the MIAA to take further action to stop these types of incidents from happening in the future.

“I know this is a real bold statement, but we need to intervene immediately,” Baldwin said, according to The Boston Globe. “I’ve lived by a quote someone taught me:  ‘You can’t wait another day in the life of a child.’ ”

A spokesman for the MIAA sent NewBostonPost a statement on the pledge and implicit bias training on December 20, 2021. It said:


The MIAA Board of Directors unanimously approved the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Discriminatory Incident Report Policies and Procedures on October 27, 2021. This pilot program, which was implemented for the 2021-22 winter season includes student-athletes, coaches and administrators viewing the free NFHS Implicit Bias on-line course and signing a MIAA DEI pledge which has student-athletes abide by all guidelines regarding the use or exhibition of discriminatory practices.  The intent of this program is for student-athletes, coaches and administrators to gain a better understanding of actions, language and behavior which can be interpreted as discriminatory in nature and to confirm their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.  The Board’s approval of this pilot program demonstrates a request for MIAA member schools to support the work of the joint MIAA and MSAA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and an expectation to follow through and oversee the approved guidelines. 


Massachusetts Family Institute president Andrew Beckwith told NewBostonPost in an email message that his organization plans to take action against school districts that are requiring student-athletes to sign this pledge. 

“Requiring students to sign or receipt the DEI pledge is an unconstitutional instance of compelled speech,” Beckwith wrote. “We too are hearing from parents that some coaches are still mandating this, and we are in the process of reaching out to those schools to let them know they will face legal action if they don’t correct their policies.”

Fairhaven Public Schools superintendent Tara Kohler and a spokesman for the MIAA could not be reached for comment on Wednesday or Thursday this week.


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