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The Biden administration moves to make broad, transgender sports bans illegal

In the Thursday announcement, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said, "Every student should be able to have the full experience of attending school in America, including participating in athletics, free from discrimination."
Olivier Douliery
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AFP via Getty Images
In the Thursday announcement, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said, "Every student should be able to have the full experience of attending school in America, including participating in athletics, free from discrimination."

On Thursday, the U.S. Education Department announced a proposed change to Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs. The proposal would make it illegal for schools to broadly ban transgender students from sports teams that align with their gender identity, rather than their assigned sex at birth.

The department says the move comes after two years of outreach to stakeholders across the country, and the changes still give schools some flexibility to ban transgender athletes depending on age and sport.

"Every student should be able to have the full experience of attending school in America, including participating in athletics, free from discrimination," said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. "Being on a sports team is an important part of the school experience for students of all ages."

According to the ACLU, in the past three years at least 19 states have passed laws broadly banning transgender students from sports teams that don't align with their sex as assigned at birth. If enacted, the Biden's administration's proposed changes would render such policies illegal.

Thursday's announcement came on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in West Virginia's battle over a law that bans transgender athletes from participating on female sports teams at school. And it came a day after the Kansas Legislature successfully overrode the Democratic governor's veto to codify a ban of its own.

The proposed Title IX changes will be published to the Federal Register in the next few weeks, after which it will open for 30 days of public comment. Those are just the first steps in a long process to alter the law. Assuming the proposal survives that process, schools and students will not see the rule changed or enacted for months if not years.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Sequoia Carrillo is an assistant editor for NPR's Education Team. Along with writing, producing, and reporting for the team, she manages the Student Podcast Challenge.