The U.S. Department of Education issued a ruling Wednesday that reinterprets Title IX, a law passed in 1972 to protect against discrimination in education based on sex. In its new policy directive, the department said discrimination based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity will be treated as a violation of Title IX.
“Today, the Department makes clear that all students — including LGBTQ+ students — deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
The directive is based on the Supreme Court ruling last year – Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia – which held that LGBTQ people are protected from employment discrimination, and stated that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is discrimination based on sex.
The new policy interpretation is widely viewed as knocking down any barriers to biological boys who identify as girls from competing in girls’ sports, and as a hit against the nine states that have taken legislative action over the last year to protect female athletes from having to compete against natural born males.
Female athletes say that competitive edge is real as biological males participating as females have dominated female sports where they’ve competed.
In 2020, Montana’s Big Sky Conference named a male-born cross-country runner identifying as female as the Female Athlete of the Week.
In New Zealand, transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard won gold medals in 2018 at the Pacific Games in Samoa. Hubbard, who is a biological male and had previously competed as Gavin Hubbard, also won two silver medals in a women’s world championship.
All this can be very discouraging to athletes like Selina Soule, a female-born Connecticut sprinter. According to The Blaze, Soule told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham that the situation is “very frustrating, because I know I have put in — some of my friends and fellow competitors have put in — so much time and effort to take down our times and compete ourselves better, but we are not physically able to be competitive against someone who is biologically a male.”
Scientific study seems to agree with Soule and supports the belief in the basic unfairness of trans girls competing in girls’ sports. As CBN News has reported, a peer-reviewed New Zealand study found that even with hormone therapy, biological males have the physical advantage over natural-born females because the therapy does not eliminate the innate advantages of “bone structure, lung volume or heart size of the transwoman athlete…”
Title IX is largely credited for the blossoming of girls’ and women’s sports in the decades since its passage. Critics say this new policy directive could potentially destroy that progress, and annihilate girls’ sports by not only forcing public schools to equate trans girls with biological girls but by also allowing biological boys who identify as girls to share bathrooms and locker rooms with female athletes. It’s a policy first pushed under the Obama administration, but halted and revised under President Trump.
The latest policy update changes the Trump revisions and drew outrage from conservatives who have pushed to keep biological boys, out of girls’ athletics.
Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, called it a “politically motivated change” that effectively rewrites Title IX.”
“Title IX exists precisely to ensure that women and girls have equal opportunities in education, including in sports,” Holcomb said. “Girls and women deserve better than having their opportunities stripped away in service of harmful ideology.”
The new guidance was issued as a “notice of interpretation” and does not carry the force of law, but could result in sanctions against schools not deemed in compliance. In the meantime, the future of female sports hangs in the balance.