In the face of a looming deadline, the Education Department received an overwhelming response of over 150,000 comments on its proposed rule concerning transgender and nonbinary students’ participation in K-12 and college sports.
The proposed regulation has triggered passionate reactions from individuals on all sides of this highly contentious issue.
Schools could have the discretion to make decisions
Under the department’s proposed guideline, schools would hold the discretion to exclude transgender and nonbinary students from sports participation on an individual basis.
This proposal has sparked outrage among advocates supporting such participation. Their concern is that this rule could potentially become a tool for discrimination against these students.
Conversely, the rule’s provision that allows these students to join teams that correspond to their gender identity in any situation has provoked anger from others.
Biological males ‘should never be in the same locker room’
One parent commented, “As the mother of a teenaged, biological female, it is obvious that biological males should not compete with biological females. They should never be in the same locker room or restroom.”
The proposed rule comes at a politically sensitive time: it would override state-level bans that have been rapidly spreading in almost two dozen states, as reported by the Movement Advancement Project.
Some state-level bans have been halted by courts
Yet, some of these state-level bans have been halted by courts, and a federal regulation might also encounter legal challenges. Transgender rights in other areas, such as access to medical care, are also under widespread attack.
Recently, the U.S. House passed a GOP-backed measure prohibiting transgender girls and women from participating in school sports.
While the Biden administration’s intentions have been commended by advocates for transgender students, they criticize the proposal for not going far enough to safeguard transgender students from discrimination in sports teams.
Some argue that the leeway given to schools could amplify discrimination, while others question the enforcement of these rules.
Girls and women in school could be put at risk
Critics of the proposal argue that it eliminates protections for girls and women in school sports teams and could potentially put these students at risk.
Once the comments have been reviewed, the department will formulate a final regulation. According to the proposal, once finalized, schools would be prohibited from implementing outright bans on the participation of transgender and nonbinary students in sports.
This proposal would modify the federal Title IX law, which outlaws sex discrimination in federally funded schools.
New proposed rule ‘undermines the spirit of fairness in athletics’
However, numerous comments have challenged the proposed rule, arguing that it “presents serious risks to students’ safety and undermines the spirit of fairness in athletics.”
Concerns were also expressed about transgender or nonbinary students using locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.
One opposing comment states, “Allowing biological males into young girls’ sports puts female athletes at a distinct physical disadvantage. And this truly eliminates any hope of fair competition.”
Another critic wrote, “This doesn’t just violate the spirit of fairness, it also puts our daughters in danger. While inclusion is an important value, we must also recognize that inclusion should never come at the expense of safety or fairness.”