Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Sherryl Houdek

Second Advisor

Gail Ingwalson


The eligibility of transgender students to participate in high school athletic sports is a polarizing topic in the United States of America. Questions of fairness within each competitive sport, along with precedents set in law and policy, both by the United States and by International Sporting Organizations such as the International Olympic Committee, shape arguments for or against transgender high school students' eligibility. Each state faces the decision of whether to base high school transgender athletes' eligibility in high school sports according to their gender identity, or their sex assigned at birth.

The study aimed to identify Montana high school athletic coaches’ perceptions on the inclusion of transgender athletes within their respective sports programs’ and how it affects team chemistry. The study focused four research questions: What are the general perceptions of Montana high school athletic coaches on including or assimilating transgender athletes into the athletic community? What is the overall knowledge base of the Montana high school coaches in terms of transgender athletes? What are the experiences of Montana high school athletic coaches regarding team chemistry and the inclusion of transgender athletes? Do Montana high school coaches perceive an ethical and moral responsibility of schools in supporting or rejecting the idea of transgender participation in high school sports? The results were then analyzed using demographic data such as sex, size of the district, age, and coaching experience.

The survey generated 27 responses from a potential population of 2054 Montana high school coaches. It is in the investigator’s opinion that there was apprehension about responding to the survey because of the topic.

Findings appear to identify that although 93 percent of coaches responded that interscholastic sports are an integral part to a student’s social development, seventy-five percent of coaches do not believe that a high school transgender male would be accepted socially within a respective interscholastic sport. Findings also appear to identify that coaches feel that both transgender male and female athletes will not be accepted socially within a respective interscholastic sports team, thus hindering team chemistry.