Whether it’s growing as a young leader, winning a championship, or securing a college scholarship, sports open doors for young girls. They build confidence, develop skills to work through difficult problems, hone life-long friendships, and build healthy habits. But today, these doors are being slammed shut because of progressive gender ideology. Girls’ locker rooms have become a political battleground.
Over 50 years ago, Congress passed Title IX to end unjust sex discrimination in all aspects of education, including athletics. By requiring schools to offer equal athletic opportunities for members of both sexes, male and female, Title IX unleashed a period of unprecedented growth in women’s sports.
But this law has been undermined — by the NCAA and by the Biden administration, both of which are working overtime to allow biological males to participate in female sports.
This absurdity was on full display last year when college swimmer and biological male, Lia Thomas, switched to the women’s division after competing for several years on the University of Pennsylvania men’s team. Not surprisingly, Thomas broke records, took home a title, and was named All-American, depriving female swimmers of life-changing honors and opportunities.
The female athletes who were forced to compete against Thomas were publicly humiliated — told to step aside and stay quiet.
To add insult to injury, last month, the Biden administration’s Department of Education proposed new rules that disregard Title IX and, if implemented, will not only allow but require schools to let athletes compete on teams consistent with their “gender identity.” In other words, the Biden administration is unilaterally erasing 50 years of female rights and turning all women’s sports into a free-for-all, unless the school affirmatively determines that allowing biological males to participate would jeopardize fairness or safety for a particular team.
Not only is this unfair, but in many sports it is unsafe to allow biological males to compete on women’s teams. The burden should not be on female athletes to convince their schools to accept this scientific reality, but that is where the Biden administration has placed it.
Title IX is an equal opportunity law. In most sports, athletic opportunities are limited. Teams can only roster so many people. Only a certain number of athletes can race in a heat, play a certain position, or compete on a team. Schools can only grant so many athletic scholarships — scholarships women across this country have dedicated countless hours of practicing to earn, and in certain cases, are the only way these women can afford to obtain a higher degree. Because athletic resources are scarce, allowing even a single biological male to take a spot on the women’s roster means that a female athlete loses her opportunity — meaning women lose 100 percent of the time.
We cannot let that happen. To fortify Title IX’s original equal opportunity mandate, Republicans are leading the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, which clarifies that allowing biological males to take awards, roster spots, or scholarships from female athletes violates Title IX’s prohibition of discrimination “on the basis of sex.”
It’s time to put athletic organizations, athletic directors, and bureaucrats at the Department of Education on notice that they may not adopt misogynistic policies that promote “inclusion” on the backs of women. We cannot and we will not let our daughters be erased.
Joni Ernst is the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, and a sponsor of the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. Riley Gaines is a spokeswoman at Independent Women’s Forum and a former 12x All-American swimmer at the University of Kentucky.