Tony Perkins / Oct. 20, 2020

A Win in the Race for Girls’ Sports

More than a year later, justice may finally be won.

In the real world, a couple of seconds aren’t much. In track and field, they’re the difference between first and last place. When Franklin Pierce University’s Cece Telfer sprinted through the finish line well ahead of the women’s field at 2019’s Division II national championships, he insisted he didn’t have a biological advantage. His competition, girls who trained their whole careers for this moment, disagreed. Thanks to a hugely controversial transgender athletic policy, they all missed out at the chance for collegiate glory. And this month, more than a year later, justice may finally be won.

Robert Johnson, one of the commentators who saw that race in Texas, was — like a lot of Americans — horrified. “Prior to joining the women’s team this season, Telfer was a mediocre DII athlete who never came close to making it to nationals in the men’s category. In 2016 and 2017, Telfer ranked 200th and 390th, respectively, among DII men in the 400 hurdles… The fact that Telfer can change her gender and immediately become a national champion is proof positive as to why women’s sports needs protection.” Athletes across the spectrum agreed. So did parents and public policy groups — one of whom, Concerned Women for America, filed a formal complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

These politically-correct policies, president Penny Nance argued, are turning Title IX sports on its head. If something isn’t done — and quickly — women’s sports will be endangered to the point of extinction. The Trump administration, after a lengthy probe, agreed. After a long conversation with agency officials, Franklin Pierce decided — reluctantly — to drop their unfair guidelines. “Franklin Pierce University regrets that we must remove our previously published Transgender Participation and Inclusion Policy. We remain committed to an inclusive environment for all of our students while also complying with federal law. Franklin Pierce University and the Department of Athletics will continue to support all students and student-athletes.”

Of course, one of the major concerns this summer was what kind of impact the U.S. Supreme Court’s redefinition of “sex” would have on girls’ sports. The Trump administration didn’t waste any time setting that record straight, filing a statement of interest in the Selena Soule case in Connecticut and threatening the federal funding of any school that jeopardized the level playing field. As the Office of Civil Rights pointed out in its letter last Friday, “Even if Bostock applied to Title IX — a question the Supreme Court expressly declined to address — its reasoning would only confirm that Title IX does not permit a biologically male student to compete against females on a sex-segregated team or in a sex-segregated league.”

“Unlike the Bostock ruling,” the letter continued, “which concluded sex is ‘not relevant to employment decisions,’ sex is relevant to school sports.” Under the resolution, Franklin Pierce has until the end of the month to prove that the policy has been changed. In the meantime, CWA says, this ought to be a “warning shot to the NCAA and every college and university in America to back off policies that discriminate against female student-athletes and restore… equity in women’s sports.”

We’re grateful to the Trump administration for righting this wrong and hope more Americans wake up and realize that these common-sense protections are what next month’s election is all about. Believe it or not, this is another real-life contrast between this White House and its Democratic challengers. President Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden, has already vowed to do away with girls’ sports on “day one” of his administration by pushing the most extreme, anti-freedom piece of legislation ever written: the Equality Act. Girls’ sports are just the tip of the iceberg. If you care about religious freedom, sex-specific bathrooms and showers, conscience rights, private and religious schools, the free market, faith-based social services — every single one of them is on the ballot with Biden’s promise. And more. To find out where the two candidates’ stand on everything else, check out “Trump vs. Biden on the Issues.”

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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