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September 28, 2023

Biden Stalls His Takedown of Girls’ Sports, Fearing 2024 Backlash

The Education Department is slow-walking its rules to let biological men into girls’ locker rooms, showers, and sports teams.

By Suzanne Bowdey

When Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stood in the White House briefing room and called the issue of transgender sports “complicated,” she wasn’t kidding. For this administration, it’s never been more so. With their candidate under water, and every decimal point of polling precious, Biden’s team seems to have no choice but to backtrack on some of the president’s most radioactive agendas. And as most Americans will tell you, nothing says “political loser” like setting fire to Title IX. 

Even Jean-Pierre’s admission that there are a “wide range of views” on the issue was a dramatic shift in messaging for a White House that insists “transgender Americans shape our nation’s soul.” And yet, the president’s mouthpiece seemed surprisingly conciliatory on a war Biden launched on day one of his presidency. “There is no ‘yes or no’ answer to this,” Biden’s press secretary said to a roomful of startled looks, “… and we respect that.”

Turns out, it’s easy to stand at the podium after you’ve just been elected and threaten to burn down girls’ sports — and quite another to look at your dimming reelection prospects and do the same thing. That may be why, experts say, the Biden Education Department is slow-walking its rules to let biological men into girls’ locker rooms, showers, and sports teams. According to The Washington Times, the fact that the administration is taking its sweet time on the policy isn’t an accident. Insiders say Democrats are increasingly anxious about the political impact the decision could have. 

Over at the American Principles Project, Paul Dupont insisted the president is “in deep trouble on this, and they know it.” The new guidelines, which were supposed to be released in May, have already been pushed back to October — with no end to the procrastination in sight. Higher Ed Dive, the outlet who first noticed the holdup, put the shortest possible timeline for a final policy somewhere in December. And that’s if the administration moves forward now. As it stands, “the department has not yet sent the regulations to the Office of Management and Budget for review, a required step. A branch of that agency, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA, has up to 120 days to evaluate the regulations.”

One reason the agency may be logjammed, others point out, is the avalanche of public comments that poured in when the department first posted the language gutting Title IX. An agency spokesperson told the Times that they had received “a historic number of comments” — almost a quarter million, which is practically unheard of in this day and age. As Family Research Council’s Meg Kilgannon, a former Education official under Trump, pointed out, “The fact that the rule isn’t final means that the overwhelming public comments made a difference.” 

In her mind, “The Biden administration is attempting to make good on the old Obama promise of fundamental transformation. But they are seeing that a 500+ page rule on Title IX, completely redefining sex and upending the very purpose of Title IX, is easier said than done.”

In the meantime, Kilgannon warned, “Schools and universities should understand that the DeVos rule on Title IX is still in effect. Districts can get into legal trouble if they enforce the new version of the rule before it is published, because they don’t know exactly what the new rule will include. There are going to be many issues and harms to women and girls, and boys too, once this rule is published.”

If the administration delays the rule, she went on, “and publishes it closer to the election, it will be unpopular with many, many people, but the real impact of the rule will be felt in meaningful ways after the election or at least after early voting has started. I think the delay is an attempt to get the rule in place late in the game, and deal with the consequences after the election.”

For now, the Biden administration is trying to keep impatient LGBT advocacy groups at bay, claiming, “We are utilizing every resource at our disposal to complete this rulemaking process as soon as is practicable.” 

But are they? “Although the administration claims the delays are procedural, it’s obvious they are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Dupont argued. “On the one hand, the left-wing activist base will keep the pressure on until they declare Title IX protects male athletes who identify as female. And on the other hand, the administration knows this policy would be massively unpopular with voters.”

“Unpopular” doesn’t begin to describe it. By Gallup’s last count, almost 70% of Americans — including 55% of Democrats — don’t want their daughters competing on teams with biological boys. That swell of opposition is what’s driving the legislative backlash we’re seeing in states across the country. Thanks to outspoken parents and even local Democrats who’ve had enough with the national party’s extremism, laws protecting girls’ sports now blanket almost half the country. Twenty-three states have signed bills into law shielding girls from this moral outrage — with Alaska on the cusp. 

And yet, most voters would be shocked to know that not a single House Democrat — zero — sided with Republicans in April to do the same federally. Not one mom or dad on the Left would defend a girl’s basic right to privacy and fair play. To Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who has the companion bill to Rep. Greg Steube’s (R-Fla.) successful proposal, that’s astonishing.

“I coached for 40 years,” he told Dr. Ben Carson during a Cornerstone Conversation, “and [Title IX was] one of the biggest, I would say, improvements that we made in academics and athletics. … [I]n the mid-70s, I coached girls’ basketball … and Title IX had just started. And when Title IX started [there were] single digits, percentages of girls in high school playing sports. I’m talking about single digits,” Tuberville said.

“[This policy] opened up facilities, funding, athletic scholarships — and almost immediately you saw the rise and dedication of women’s sports across our country. [It’s] maybe one of the best things that the federal government has done, especially for women. … Now we send women athletes all over the world. They are the best, some of the best athletes in the world,” he added.

One of those athletes, Riley Gaines, knows what it’s like to be pushed to the sidelines. But in her mind, this fight is a lot bigger than just sports. Women’s entire identities, she told the Pray Vote Stand Summit, “are being stripped away — causing us as women, as young girls, to become collateral damage.” That, she urged, is why “this should be chilling to all of us.” “We’re denying objective truth … the essence of humanity.” And it’s bleeding into the education system, the media, corporate America, even churches. 

“It’s entirely spiritual warfare,” Gaines insisted. “… [T]hese people claim to be acting out of love and inclusion and tolerance and acceptance and welcoming and all of those different things. That’s not what love is. … It’s not compassionate to ask a young girl to undress in front of a man, and it is not inclusive to ask us to smile and step aside and allow men onto our podiums.”

“As parents, as grandparents,” she said passionately, “be willing to defend your daughters. They need you.” And as you’re doing that, Riley charged them, “teach your sons masculinity. … Teach them to uphold and respect and honor women. But teach them how to be strong men.”

At the end of the day, Gaines emphasized, know this: “We’re in the overwhelming majority on this issue.” Look, she said, “I get told I’m brave all the time. I get told I’m courageous, which just kind of makes me chuckle because, again, I’m saying the most basic thing someone could quite literally be saying — that men are men and women are women. … It seems pretty straightforward to me. … And while I do agree that’s scary [to speak out], what should be scarier to all of us is denying truth.”

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

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