Half of America’s governors are urging the Biden administration to force or delay the implementation of a proposed rule from the Department of Education they say could prevent states from enforcing “duly-enacted statutes protecting fairness in women’s and girls’ sports.”
In a letter sent Friday to Education Sec. Miguel Cardona, 25 Republican governors pushed back against the department’s proposal to amend Title IX rules to expand the meaning of sexual discrimination to include gender identity that would prevent schools and colleges from banning transgender athletes.
“We write to submit a joint comment in opposition to the US Department of Education’s proposed new regulation 34 CFR § 106.41(b)(2) and respectfully request that it be withdrawn or delayed until the US Supreme Court can address the questions raised in several pending cases that are challenging this administration’s expanded reading of Title IX,” the governors, led by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves wrote in the letter.
Under the department’s proposed rule, no school or college that receives federal funding would be allowed to impose a “one-size-fits-all” policy that categorically bans transgender students from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. Such policies would be considered a violation of Title IX.
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The proposal, the GOP governors said, could “prevent states from enforcing our duly-enacted statutes protecting fairness in women’s and girls’ sports.”
“If not withdrawn, we are gravely concerned about the impact that the Department’s wholesale reinvention of Title IX’s terms would have on states’ ability to enforce their laws and policies as written,” the governors wrote. “Indeed, under threat of denying essential school funding, the Department’s proposed regulation would attempt to coerce compliance with an uncertain, fluid, and completely subjective standard that is based on a highly politicized gender ideology. Most troublesome, the proposed regulation would turn the purpose of Title IX on its head and threaten the many achievements of women in athletics.”
Offering further criticism of the proposal, the governors said the recommended regulation from the department “lacks foundation in established law” and “includes terms not found in Title IX in an attempt to expand Title IX’s clear language beyond Congress’ intent.”
“The proposed rule also lacks any Congressional authority. The plain language used in Title IX does not allow the sweeping rewrites of Title IX that the Department persists in seeking,” the governors stated. “It is undisputed that Title IX prohibits discrimination ‘on the basis of sex.'”
“Undeterred by plain English, the Department invents new categories solely based on a student’s ‘gender identity’ — a term not used in Title IX,” they added. “This overreaching interpretation exceeds the Department’s Congressionally granted authority. Not only does the Department lack the authority to unilaterally re-write Title IX, such a regulation would disrupt states and schools and eviscerate the lived experience and achievements of generations of courageous women.”
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The governors also highlighted the importance of defending the “hard-fought” achievements of female athletes.
“This administration apparently sees no irony that its policies validate an average male athlete stealing the recognition from a truly remarkable female athlete whose lifelong athletic discipline and achievements are discarded based on a deliberate misreading of a law whose very purpose was to protect, preserve, and encourage women’s athletics,” the governors said. “The scandal of 1970’s and 1980’s East German women athletes pales in comparison to the logical result of this administration’s relentless pursuit of draconian enforcement of its gender ideology. Leaving aside the Department’s utter lack of authority to enact such a regulation, neither states nor schools should d be subjected to such a fluid and uncertain standard. Nor, most importantly, should the historic advancements and achievements of our sisters, mothers, and daughters be erased.”
in a press releasethe Biden administration said the proposed rule “affirms that students benefit from the chance to join a school sports team to learn about teamwork, leadership, and physical fitness.”
The letter from more than two dozen Republican state leaders comes amid widespread support from Democrats and liberals to allow transgender athletes to compete in sports that do not align with their biological sex.
The House passed legislation last month aimed at preventing biological males from competing as transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports at schools across the country. The measure, known as the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, passed in a 219-203 vote on April 20. All the “yes” votes came from Republicans, and all the “no” votes came from Democrats.
Republicans defended the bill as an attempt to spare women and girls from having to compete against transgender women and girls—biological males who can sometimes dominate these sports and prevent some female athletes from making the team. But several Democrats argued in debate that the GOP bill is an extension of bullying that transgender students are already facing at school.
Cardona has said that he supports allowing biological male transgender people to compete in women’s sports. He said during his confirmation hearing that it is “critically important” that educators and school systems “respect the rights of all students, including students who are transgender” and that all students should be able to participate in activities.
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The Friday letter to Cardona included signatures and support from Reeves, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Ga. Gov. Brian Kemp, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Va. Gov. Glenn Youngkin, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.
Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller, Peter Kasperowicz, and The Associated Press contributed to this article.