The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the governing body for mostly small colleges, announced a policy Monday that essentially bans transgender athletes from women’s sports.

The NAIA’s Council of Presidents approved the policy in a 20-0 vote Monday, according to CBS Sports. The NAIA, which oversees some 83,000 athletes at schools across the country, is believed to be the first college sports organization to take such a step.

According to the transgender participation policy, all athletes may participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports but only athletes whose biological sex is female and have not begun hormone therapy will be allowed participate in women’s sports.

A student who has begun hormone therapy may participate in activities such as workouts, practices and team activities, but not in interscholastic competition.

“With the exception of competitive cheer and competitive dance, the NAIA created separate categories for male and female participants,” the NAIA said. “Each NAIA sport includes some combination of strength, speed and stamina, providing competitive advantages for male student-athletes. As a result, the NAIA policy for transgender student-athletes applies to all sports except for competitive cheer and competitive dance, which are open to all students.”

The topic has become a hot-button issue among conservative groups and others who believe transgender athletes should not be allowed to compete on girls’ and women’s sports teams. Last month, more than a dozen current and former women’s college athletes filed a federal lawsuit against the NCAA, accusing the college sports governing body of violating their rights by allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sports.

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