A proposed Biden administration rule announced in recent days that would prohibit schools from issuing blanket bans on biological boys participating in girls’ sports is a “slap in the face” to female athletes, according to a prominent legal group.
The new rule, announced by the Department of Education, would interpret school policies as violating Title IX if they “categorically ban transgender students from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender identity,” according to a fact sheet released by the Department of Education. For example, a school policy that broadly prohibits biological boys from participating in girls’ sports would be illegal under the proposal.
The proposed rule, though, would provide schools “flexibility” to limit transgender students' participation in sports where “fairness in competition” and sports-related injuries are issues. Such a limitation would depend on the sport, level of competition and grade.
“The Department expects that, under its proposed regulation, elementary school students would generally be able to participate on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity,” the fact sheet said. “... For older students, especially at the high school and college level, the Department expects that sex-related criteria that limit participation of some transgender students may be permitted, in some cases, when they enable the school to achieve an important educational objective, such as fairness in competition, and meet the proposed regulation's other requirements.”
Title IX is a 1972 law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities.
Christiana Kiefer, senior counsel for the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, criticized the new rule. Twenty states “have enacted laws that protect women and girls from having to compete against males,” she said.
“The Biden administration’s proposed rules are a slap in the face to female athletes who deserve equal opportunity to compete in their sports,” Kiefer said. “The Department of Education’s rewriting of Title IX degrades women and tells them that their athletic goals and placements do not matter. When society and the law try to ignore reality, people get hurt. In sports, it’s women and girls who pay the price.”
Theologian Albert Mohler said the proposed policy is bad news for female athletes.
“This policy means more biological males competing as females and on female teams, and that means not only being where they don't belong, it means also displacing women from those teams and girls from those teams,” he said during his Monday podcast, The Briefing.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Jonathan Chng
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.