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Fitch leads 22 AGs in urging Title IX protections for female athletes

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Attorney General Lynn Fitch is leading a 22-state coalition of attorneys general in urging the Biden Administration to uphold Title IX protections for female athletes by forbidding transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.

In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Fitch and her colleagues voiced their opposition to an April rule the Department of Education proposed that would prohibit sex discrimination for transgender student-athletes.

Under the proposed rule, schools would not be permitted to adopt or apply a policy that categorically bans transgender students from participating on teams consistent with their gender identity.

Instead, the DOE’s approach would allow schools flexibility to develop team eligibility criteria to account for the sport, level of competition, and grade or education level to which they apply. These criteria could not be premised on disapproval of transgender students or a desire to harm a particular student.

Elementary school students would generally be allowed to participate on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity. For older students, especially at the high school and college level, the DOE expects that sex-related criteria that limit the participation of some transgender students may be permitted, in some cases, to ensure fairness of competition.

“One-size-fits-all policies that categorically ban transgender students from participating in athletics consistent with their gender identity across all sports, age groups, and levels of competition would not satisfy the proposed regulation,” the proposed rule states.

Attorneys general from nearly two dozen states voiced their opposition to the proposed rule, stating that the rule disregards five decades of evidence showing the benefits of applying the traditional definition of biological sex in sports.

The legal leaders argue that the DOE does not have the authority to implement such a rule while also contending that the rule would eliminate a fair playing field for female athletes who would have to compete against biological males.

“For decades, women have enjoyed a far fairer playing field thanks to successful, commonsense laws like Title IX,” Fitch said. “The Biden Administration’s attempts to devalue women’s unique needs and contributions will reverse decades of progress. We must continue our efforts to empower women by offering safe spaces for women to engage with one another in athletics, education, fellowship, and sometimes even in healing.”

Attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia joined Fitch in filing this comment letter.

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