DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, joined U.S. Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, and 12 additional Senate colleagues on Friday to introduce a bill entitled the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act.
The legislation responds to President Joe Biden’s executive order prohibiting sex discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In his executive order, Biden instructs department heads to “review all existing orders, regulations, guidance documents, policies, programs, or other agency actions (“agency actions”) that were promulgated or are administered by the agency under Title VII or any other statute or regulation that prohibits sex discrimination, including any that relate to the agency’s own compliance with such statutes or regulations; and are or may be inconsistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.”
In section 1 of the executive order, the Biden Administration applies the Supreme Court’s reasoning in their Bostock ruling to Title IX and other federal laws.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded the Obama administration guidance in the form of a “Dear Colleague letter” from the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education that informed schools that as a condition of receiving federal funds, the school must agree that it will “not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations.”
Those opposed to this executive order are concerned that it would lead to the decline of women’s sports since Title IX expanded and protected women’s sports.
In June, the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office found that Connecticut’s athletic policy that allows transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports violated women’s civil rights. Several female track athletes sued the state when two transgender athletes won 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races setting numerous state records.
There are 19 states and the District of Columbia that allow transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports, and the Biden Administration policy would, in effect, enforce this policy nationwide.
The bill would ensure that Title IX provisions relating to athletics treat sex as that which is “recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
Further, if any recipient of federal funding who operates, sponsors, or facilitates athletic programs or activities permits a male to participate in a women’s sporting event, they would be found to violate the statutory regulations outlined in Title IX.
“When transgender athletes compete against women, women’s sports are no longer women’s sports; they become unisex athletic events,” Lee said in a released statement. “This bill would protect the opportunity of girls throughout America to athletically compete against other girls.”
Other co-sponsors include U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., James Lankford, R-Okla., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
Ernst’s spokesperson Ben Watson told The Iowa Torch that Iowa’s junior senator co-sponsored the bill because “she believes it’s important to support women’s sports.”
Several outside organizations are supporting the bill, including: Concerned Women for American, American Principles Project, Family Research Council, Ethics & Public Policy Center, Alliance Defending Freedom, Save Women’s Sports, Heritage Action for America, Independent Women’s Forum, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Family Policy Alliance, and Women’s Liberation Front.