An executive order signed by President Biden on Wednesday will force schools to allow biological boys who identify as girls to compete in girls’ sports, critics of the order say.
At issue is an executive order Biden signed to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Although its impact is wide-reaching – affecting employment, housing and health care – its ramifications on sports and the debate over transgender athletes is one of the most controversial elements.
“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” the executive order says.
In Connecticut, two biological boys who identify as girls won 15 girls’ state track titles.
It is the Biden administration’s policy, the order says, “to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” The U.S. Supreme Court, in its Bostock v. Clayton County decision this year, said Title VII also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Significantly, the executive order says the Biden administration will apply Bostock’s legal reasoning to other areas of law, including education.
“Under Bostock‘s reasoning, laws that prohibit sex discrimination – including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ... prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, so long as the laws do not contain sufficient indications to the contrary,” the executive order says.
Title IX is a 1972 law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities.
The executive order requires the Biden administration agencies to “review all existing orders, regulations, guidance documents, policies, programs, or other agency actions” and make sure they are consistent with the new policy.
The policy overturns the Trump administration’s policy, which held that schools are violating Title IX when they allow biological boys who identify as girls to compete in girls’ sports.
Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said the executive order will impact school sports.
“Unfortunately, the Biden administration wasted no time in demanding policies that gut legal protections for women by denying female athletes fair competition in sports, ignoring women’s unique health needs, and forcing vulnerable girls to share intimate spaces with men who identify as female,” Holcomb said. “... This isn’t equality, and it isn’t progress. President Biden’s call for ‘unity’ falls flat when he seeks to hold those receiving federal funds hostage if they don’t do tremendous damage to the rights, opportunities, and dignity of women and girls.”
Ryan T. Anderson, teaching fellow at the University of Dallas, criticized the order for “mandating that males be allowed inside female-only spaces and take places on female sports teams.”
“In reality, it spells the end of girls’ and women’s sports as we know them,” Anderson wrote at the Daily Signal. “And, of course, no child should be told the lie that they’re ‘trapped in the wrong body,’ and adults should not pump them full of puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones.
Lawsuits, Anderson said, will be necessary to halt the executive order.
“Through litigation and legislation,” he wrote. “we need to make it clear that it’s lawful to act on the convictions that we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other, that no institution has to let males compete against females in sports, that no institution has to allow males into women-only locker-rooms and shelters, that no physician has to engage in so-called ‘gender-affirming’ care.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Bulat Silvia
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.