On April 6, the U.S. Department of Education rolled out its proposed changes to Title IX regulations on students’ eligibility for athletic teams. If you read mainstream reporting, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the proposed sports rule struck a fair compromise. But while some radical politicians and activists professed their indignation, gender activists appear to have secured a thorough victory in the contest over the nature of female sports.
Barring substantial edits, the Biden education department will formally announce that girls and women’s athletic programs in public schools—kindergarten through college—are no longer just for females. With few exceptions, female teams and scoreboards, locker rooms and scholarships must be made available to males who identify as female.
As is customary with sweeping proposals for social change, the department cloaks its agenda in sugary and simplistic terms. “Every student should be able to have the full experience of attending school in America, including participating in athletics, free from discrimination,” says Secretary Miguel Cardona. Behind these words lie a systematic reinvention of federal law, disregard for the equal opportunities of a rising generation of women, and a full-throated endorsement of our country’s confusion over the nature of sex.
Fifty years ago, Congress acted to protect equal opportunity for women by passing Title IX. But Title IX deals with discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity, and it was rightly enacted to ensure women had equal opportunity in academics and athletics. Those words may seem insignificant on paper, but their implications for law, culture, and worldview are monumental.
As I’ve written here before, Alliance Defending Freedom is currently representing female athletes who have been sidelined by boys and men. The Biden administration’s rule promises to multiply and systematize such injustice on tracks, swimming pools, fields, and courts across the country.
The rule places an unconscionable hurdle in front of women and insists that males may inhabit female sports and spaces unless a school can demonstrate how doing so will jeopardize the physical health of young women. In the face of such paperwork and legal risk, girls can expect to see the cancellation of teams where males pose a heightened risk of contact and injury and the functional elimination of female-only sports.
Second, the rule is a prime example of how messy and Machiavellian the executive rulemaking process has become. The policy proposed would be troublesome enough if it were put into effect through the proper legislative channels. But with this rule, unelected education bureaucrats are directly reinventing federal law, illegally contradicting new laws in over 20 states, and seeking to enforce a policy that fails to enjoy support from a majority of Americans.
But why should Christians care about this rule, especially if they don’t have a daughter on a school sports team? Because it seeks to normalize and systematize a lie about human nature and—like most bad ideas—that lie will have profound and devastating consequences.
Forcing schools to allow students to play sports based on their subjective gender identity will jeopardize the safety and dignity of all students (not to mention affirming confused young men in their gender dysphoria), but it will especially impact the privacy of female students and young students in school facilities like locker rooms and showers or on school trips.
Most fundamentally, the rule violates constitutional rights. The Department of Education is not relying on facts, science, or common sense but is exercising raw power. A government powerful enough to silence citizens speaking truth is bad enough. A society that forces citizens to deny truth is not a free society at all. Every American should be free to live in every area of life according to the truth that humans are male or female. No one should be punished for that.
If this rule passes, it will profoundly deepen our national confusion on topics of sex and gender. The New York Times and National Public Radio may celebrate the rule as a smart compromise, but discerning believers would do well to oppose this rule and—if it’s enacted—cheerfully and humbly refuse to live by its lies.