Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
Thursday, the Biden administration rolled out a proposal that it says will expand transgender athletes’ ability to participate in sports against members of the sex with which they identify, but which is worded in such a convoluted way that the new rule could be interpreted as being essentially meaningless.
The new policy, which would come in the form of a modification of Title IX, the federal law established to combat sex-based discrimination, would primarily end schools’ ability to create blanket rules regarding transgender participation.
It would not, however, grant blanket permission to transgender athletes to participate in any sport.
A fact sheet released by The Department of Education clarifies that the policy “would establish that policies violate Title IX when they categorically ban transgender students from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender identity just because of who they are.”
Today @EDcivilrights proposes changes to its #TitleIX regulations to advance Title IX’s longstanding goal of ensuring equal opportunity for all students in schools’ athletic programs and invites public comment. Learn more in our news room: https://t.co/9fkF3rMX3G
— ED Civil Rights (@EDcivilrights) April 6, 2023
The rule would apply to all K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions that receive federal funding.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said the new rule was necessary to ensure that transgender athletes “have the full experience of attending school in America, including participating in athletics, free from discrimination. Being on a sports team is an important part of the school experience for students of all ages.”
If that is Cardona and Biden’s intention, this law falls short. Indeed, in the same paragraph as the announcement of the new policy, the Education Department also establishes that there will still be rather profound exceptions.
Most notably, the rule aimed at granting transgender athletes the ability to be on sports teams will contain a provision that allows schools to establish rules for not allowing transgender athletes on sports teams.
“The proposed rule also recognizes that in some instances, particularly in competitive high school and college athletic environments, some schools may adopt policies that limit transgender students’ participation,” the fact sheet reads. “The proposed rule would provide schools with a framework for developing eligibility criteria that protects students from being denied equal athletic opportunity, while giving schools the flexibility to develop their own participation policies.”
In short, schools will still be allowed to prevent transgender participation in sports deemed competitive, which by definition is virtually all sports.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
If readers are a little unclear as to what the new rule actually means, they are joined in that confusion by some transgender advocacy groups.
“We are concerned about whether the proposed rule can properly eliminate the discrimination that transgender students experience due to the pervasive bias and ignorance about who they are,” Sasha Buchert of the Lambda Legal Nonbinary and Transgender Rights Project said in a statement. “These students must have full and equal chances to participate because participation in athletics provides many long-term benefits for young people, including important health benefits, and chances to develop leadership skills, discipline, and self-confidence.”
The matter was clearer for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who views the policy as a step toward more biological males competing against females.
“Joe Biden thinks it’s ok for men to compete against women in sport,” a tweet from the House Judiciary Committee, over which Jordan presides, reads. “This is an attack on female athletes. Radical.”
Joe Biden thinks it’s ok for men to compete against women in sports.
This is an attack on female athletes.
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) April 6, 2023
Last month, well before the Title IX rule change was revealed, Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who was a successful college football coach prior to being elected, said the Biden administration’s efforts amounted to an attack on women’s athletics.
“What the heck is going on here?” Tuberville said during an appearance on the 1819 News Podcast.
Why in the world would an administration be for 1% of this country which are transgender — now I’ve got nothing against them. If that’s the way they want to be, that’s fine. But to allow them to allow a biological boy to participate against a girl in sports. It’s unfair, it’s unsafe, and it’s wrong.
Of Title IX, which has led to exponentially more women participating in sports, Tuberville said, “It’s probably one of the few things this clown show up here has gotten right in the last 50 years. Now we have an administration that’s attacking it. You can’t make this up. Why in the world would we even consider this, much less allow it to happen?”
The proposed rule change is not yet in effect and has been submitted for public comment.