Portland Press-Herald Names Transgender Girls’ Cross Country Runner To All-State Team

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/12/05/portland-press-herald-names-transgender-girls-cross-country-runner-to-all-state-team/

A newspaper in Maine named a biological male to its girls’ cross country all-state team last weekend.

The Portland Press Herald featured Soren Stark-Chessa, a sophomore at Maine Coast Waldorf School, as one of 15 runners on its “Girls’ cross country: 2023 Varsity Maine All-State team.”

When naming Stark-Chessa to its all-state team, the paper didn’t mentioned that the runner is a male competing against girls.

Here is what the paper said about Stark-Chessa:


Soren Stark-Chessa, Maine Coast Waldorf sophomore:  Stark-Chessa placed third in Class C after winning Class C South at Twin Brook in Cumberland. She won the Western Maine Conference meet and placed fifth at the Festival of Champions. Saving her best for last, she ran 18:06 in Belfast to earn all-New England honors in the five-state meet, placing sixth overall.

Stark-Chessa is new to competing on the girls’ side this year. As a freshman in 2022, Stark-Chessa competed on the boys’ side, and never finished higher than 14th place in any given meet, according to Athletic.net. However, most competitors who finished ahead of Stark-Chessa in those meets were older. 

Waldorf School athletic director Susan Sonntag has previously defended Stark-Chessa’s participation on the girls’ team. When NewBostonPost contacted her earlier this fall, the athletic director provided a written statement.

“We support all our students at Maine Coast Waldorf School, and are proud that our students are given the opportunity to participate in all of our school programs,” Sonntag said in the statement, which was emailed to NewBostonPost on October 24. “Additionally, MCWS adheres to the Maine Statute, Title 5, §4602 ‘Unlawful educational discrimination’ which is further supported by Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) policy.”

The Maine Principals’ Association allows student-athletes to participate on teams based on their self-selected gender identity, according to the Gender Equity and Inclusion Policy in its 2022-23 handbook.

“The MPA is committed to maximizing the opportunities for all students to participate in interscholastic activities and athletics, regardless of their gender identity or expression,” the policy says.

“At the same time, the MPA is committed to ensuring fair competition and adequate protection of student athletes,” the policy continues. “Consistent with its principles, the MPA believes that all students should have the opportunity to participate in MPA activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, unless such participation would result in an unfair athletic advantage or would present an unacceptable risk of injury to other student athletes.”

Maine conservative activist Shawn McBreairty was the person first to report on Stark-Chessa’s transgender status.

Maine Coast Waldorf is a small private school in Freeport, Maine; it serves 268 students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Freeport is a town of about 8,800 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is about 17 miles northeast of Portland.

Stark-Chessa is one of a few runners known to be male to excel on a girls’ team in New England.

In Massachusetts, Brookline High girls’ track runner Chloe Barnes helped the school win the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 state championship during the winter 2022-2023 season; Barnes had a fourth-place finish in the 55-meter dash. Barnes was a junior at the time.

In New Hampshire, Kearsarge Regional High School outdoor track runner Maelle Jacques finished second (5:32.29) in the 1,600-meter run at the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 3 state championship meet in May 2023. Jacques was a freshman at the time. The school is in Sutton, New Hampshire, about 23 miles northwest of Concord, the state capital.

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