Wicker Stands Up for Women Athletes
Title IX Protections at Risk After 50 Years on the Books
July 4, 2022
June 23 marked the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark civil rights law that brought athletic opportunity to women across America. Passed in 1972, Title IX bans discrimination on the basis of sex in all schools, colleges, and universities that receive federal funds. These institutions are required to give men and women equal access to the programs they offer, including athletic opportunities.
Title IX has been a game-changer for women’s sports. At the time it was enacted, only 15 percent of college athletes were women, and in high school just seven percent of athletes were girls. Female athletes received two percent of college athletics budgets, and sports scholarships for women were almost non-existent. All that has changed because of Title IX. Today, 44 percent of college athletes are women, and 3.5 million girls participate in high school sports. Title IX was truly one of the greatest advances for women in our nation’s history.
Biden Puts Women's Sports in Danger
After such remarkable progress, it is troubling that President Biden is now putting women’s sports at risk. On the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Biden officials released new guidance that could require schools to allow transgender athletes who are biologically male to compete against women. This means that from California to Mississippi, middle school girls could find themselves having to compete with biological boys who identify as transgender. This is simply unacceptable and will meet stiff resistance across the country.
Many Americans are already alarmed that transgender athletes who are biologically male are competing against women. Some of these men have won titles that should have gone to women, causing some female athletes to miss out on scholarships. One recent victim is Riley Gaines, a swimmer from Tennessee. At the NCAA championships, she tied for fifth place with Lia Thomas, a 6’4” biological male who was allowed to compete as a woman. Thomas had previously ranked 400th among male swimmers, yet among women he found himself in contention for a national title. Ms. Gaines said her experience going up against Thomas was disheartening. “It’s just not fair,” she added. “It’s not right.”
Most Americans agree with Ms. Gaines. A recent survey found that roughly six in 10 Americans believe biological men should be barred from competing in collegiate women’s sports. Even FINA, the international governing body for swimming, is adopting this view and just days ago decided to ban most biological men from women’s swimming. As more people stand up to defend women’s sports, the President will find himself in shrinking company.
Republicans Work to Protect Women's Sports
As with so many of his policies, President Biden has clearly failed to consider the real-world impacts of his transgender proposal. Recently I joined my colleagues in pushing back on the President by cosponsoring the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. This bill would clarify that “sex” in Title IX refers strictly to biology. It would also make it illegal for a recipient of federal funds to let males compete in female sports. In addition, as the lead Republican on the Commerce Committee, I have requested that the NCAA provide an update on how they are complying with Title IX.
Women athletes have come too far to have their opportunities taken away. Republicans will continue to stand up to the President and defend women’s sports. Our work will not be done until every woman and girl can compete freely, fairly, and safely.