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The Supreme Court Decision That Could Impact Women’s Sports

By Sarah Kramer posted on:
February 18, 2020

Did you know that the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on a case that could affect the future of women’s athletics?

In October, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

It may seem odd that a case featuring a funeral home could somehow be related to women’s sports. But what the Supreme Court does with Harris is likely to have a major impact on what is happening in places like Connecticut, where a policy change has allowed male athletes who identify as female to compete—and usually win—in track and field events as women and girls.

Let me explain…

In Harris, Alliance Defending Freedom represents Tom Rost, owner of Harris Funeral Homes, located in the Detroit area. Tom’s 100-year-old, fifth-generation family business is being threatened, all because some activists are bent on imposing their own political agenda.

This all started when a male funeral director approached Tom, expressing the intent to begin dressing and presenting as a woman when interacting with grieving families. Tom carefully and prayerfully considered this. The funeral director had worked at Harris Funeral Homes for almost six years and had agreed to the dress code at the time of hire and ever since. Tom thought about what was best for his other employees, and most importantly the families Harris Funeral Homes serves. Ultimately, Tom decided he could not agree to the funeral director’s plan. So they parted ways.

Even though Tom’s actions were in accordance with federal law, the government still came after him, claiming that “sex” under federal nondiscrimination law includes “gender identity.”

The federal government has since reversed course and now agrees with Tom. But the ACLU continues to push this case forward, determined to bypass our elected officials and redefine “sex” in federal law.

The impact of this redefinition would be severe. If the Supreme Court rules in Harris that “sex” in federal employment law (Title VII) means “gender identity,” employers would be required to treat men who identify or present as women as if they are in fact women. It would jeopardize the dignity and privacy of women. It would compel professionals from all walks of life to refer to colleagues with pronouns and other sex-specific terms according to gender identity rather than biology.

And it would not take long for lower courts to take the new, federal meaning of “sex” and apply it in other areas, such as Title IX, undermining equal opportunities for women, especially in women’s sports where men who identify as women have already received women’s athletic awards.

Just look at what’s happening in Connecticut, where ADF recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of three high school girls who are fighting to compete on a level playing field. There, just in the past two years, two male athletes have taken 15 state championship titles that previously belonged to nine different girls and 17 individual meet records that previously belonged to 13 different girls. These results will likely be multiplied across the country if the Supreme Court rules against Harris Funeral Homes.

But if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Harris Funeral Homes, making it clear that unelected officials cannot redefine the law, that would protect businesses who rely on the law as written and could safeguard the athletic opportunities of these girls—and freedom for us all. 

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Sarah Kramer

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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