LINCOLN, Neb. (CNS) — Disappointed but not giving up.

That might summarize the reaction of Nebraska’s Catholic bishops to the Nebraska School Activities Association’s statewide representative assembly vote April 8 to retain a pathway for transgender participation in high school sports and other activities.

The 51-member assembly voted 27-23 to oppose a proposal the bishops’ backed — formalizing the long-standing practice of basing high school sports participation on a student’s sex as noted on the birth certificate. There was one abstention.

“We deeply regret that the NSAA representative assembly did not approve the ‘sex on the certificate at birth’ proposal,” Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha and Bishops James D. Conley of Lincoln and Joseph G. Hanefeldt of Grand Island said in a statement released by the Nebraska Catholic Conference, based in Lincoln. The conference is the public policy arm of the state’s bishops.

“The Catholic member schools of the NSAA, through the Nebraska Catholic Conference, will continue to urge the NSAA to rescind the board of directors’ policy and to require that students participate in NSAA activities according to their sex at birth.”

The bishops said all people are entitled to respect, concern and support, but such support must consider fairness, safety, privacy and rights of all students, and the truth about the human person.

“Recognizing the truth about each person’s biological sex, and basing policies upon that fundamental truth, would serve the best interest of Nebraska’s students, families and schools,” the bishops said.

The assembly’s vote came after the association’s board voted 6-2 Jan. 14 to approve a policy allowing male students who identify as females to compete on girls’ teams — and females who identify as males to compete on boys’ teams.

Earlier in January, four of the association’s six districts approved the “sex-at-birth” proposal, prompting the state’s bishops to note that proposal reflected the majority of the association’s member schools, including a majority of public schools.

“The failure of the delegates’ vote to reflect the position of the majority of member schools — including public schools — expressed at the January district meetings is contrary to what one would expect of a ‘member-driven organization,'” the bishops said in their April 8 statement.

Prior to the vote, they said in a March 31 statement: “Parents recognize the vital role that school activities play in the mature development of their school-age children. It is important that these activities, together with children’s overall educational experience, uphold and affirm the fundamental nature of the human person and the family.”