Biden administration’s proposal would ban outright ban on transgender athletes but allow exceptions

Washington – Schools and colleges in the United States would be prohibited from outright enacting ban on transgender athletes under a proposal released Thursday by the Biden administration, but teams could create limits in some cases — for example, to ensure fairness.

The proposed rule sends political backlash to a wave of Republican-led states that have sought to ban trans athletes from participating in school sports that align with their gender identity. If finalized, the proposal would become enshrined as a provision of Title IXthe landmark Gender Equity Act enacted in 1972.

However, he has to undergo a lengthy approval process and he is almost certain to face challenges from his opponents.

The proposal arrives the same day as the The Supreme Court said A 12-year-old transgender girl in West Virginia can continue to compete on her college track and cross-country teams as legal battles over state transgender law continue. The law prohibits transgender athletes from competing on women’s teams.

In total, at least 16 now have bans in place covering at least high school interscholastic sports. Some also extend to intramural, club, or college sports. Enforcement of bans in at least three states have been suspended by the courts, and another has passed a ban that does not go into effect until July.

Under the department’s proposed rule, no school or college receiving federal funding would be allowed to impose a “one size fits all” policy that categorically prohibits trans students from playing on sports teams that conform to their gender identity. Such policies would be considered a violation of Title IX.

However, this leaves room for schools to develop team eligibility rules that could potentially lead to restrictions on the participation of trans athletes.

This would only be allowed if it serves “important educational purposes”, such as fairness in competition and reducing the risk of injury.

Any limits should take into account the sport, the level of competition and the age of the students. Elementary school students would generally be allowed to participate in all teams compatible with their gender identity, for example, while more competitive teams in high schools and colleges could add limits.

“Every student should be able to have the full experience of going to school in America, including participating in athletics, without discrimination,” Miguel Cardona, President Biden’s education secretary, said in a statement. .

The Biden administration has used “competitive fairness” as a criterion, which has been part of the debate in the United States and around the world.

Critics argue that transgender athletes have an advantage over cisgender women in competition. Last year, Lia Thomas became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming title. The college sports governing body, however, adopted a sport-by-sport approach to transgender athletes in January 2022, which was to align the organization with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees, although recently the NCAA Board of Directors decided it would not be fully implemented until 2023-24.

At the same time, international sports governing bodies are instituting policies that ban all trans athletes from competing in athletics and effectively ban trans women from competing in swimming.

The Biden administration has made it a priority to strengthen the rights of trans students. Last year, he proposed a separate federal rule that, for the first time, would extend Title IX rights to LGBTQ students, broadly protecting them from discrimination in education.

The rule – which has drawn more than 240,000 public comments and fierce opposition from Tories – is expected to be finalized as early as next month.

The new proposal does not offer examples of acceptable limits that can be placed on school sports, but it does clarify that restrictions cannot be aimed solely at trans students. Schools will have to navigate this tricky legal terrain, knowing that any violations could result in a federal civil rights investigation or prosecution.

Schools that choose to impose limits must “minimize harm” to students who lose athletic opportunities, the proposal says. If a school can achieve goals such as equity in a way that causes less harm, then the school could be considered in violation of Title IX.

“Preventing students from participating in a sports team consistent with their gender identity can stigmatize and isolate them,” according to background information provided by the administration. “It’s different from the experience of a student not being selected for a team based on their skills.”

Schools that violate Title IX can face penalties up to and including a complete loss of federal funding, although no school has ever been penalized.

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