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‘A backwards betrayal’: Biden Title IX proposal draws criticism from LGBTQ community


Some LGBTQ advocates this week slammed the Biden administration’s proposed revision to Title IX, accusing the president of backtracking on his commitment to protecting transgender young people.

(AP Photo/John Hanna, File)

The proposal, released Thursday by the Education Department, would prohibit the adoption of policies that “categorically” ban transgender athletes from school sports teams consistent with their gender identity, rebuking broad bans that have been implemented by 20 states, and counting.

But K-12 schools under the administration’s proposal would still have the leeway to limit transgender athletes’ participation in sports if they determine that including them will undermine competitive fairness or increase the risk of sports-related injuries, a senior Education Department official said Thursday.

“The proposed regulation would give schools flexibility to identify their own important educational objectives,” rather than adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, the official said on a call with reporters.

LGBTQ Americans and their allies have had mixed reactions to the administration’s proposed changes. While some are celebrating the possibility of a new federal civil rights law prohibiting laws that bar transgender students from participating in school sports, others say the proposal is a disappointing departure from prior actions and statements made by the Biden White House in support of equal rights for transgender people.

“State lawmakers take note — discriminating against transgender athletes is wrong and a violation of federal law. This new rule makes that abundantly clear,” said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group.

Robinson added, however, that the new rule should be updated to clarify that “all transgender students should be presumed eligible to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity.”

“The Biden Administration framed their proposal as a ban on blanket discrimination against trans athletes. But actually it provides guidelines for how schools and universities can ban trans athletes legally,” Imara Jones, the founder and chief executive of TransLash Media, said Friday.

“It’s hard to have a ‘middle ground’ when it comes [to] supporting human rights for trans people, and I can’t see how Joe Biden can straddle the fence here,” she said.

The White House declined to comment.

Biden, during his time in office, has on multiple occasions promised to defend the rights of transgender Americans and has condemned state bills that seek to restrict how transgender young people may access health care, use the restroom and play sports.

On his first day in office in 2021, Biden signed an executive order to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, writing, “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”

In a Twitter post on Thursday, Alejandra Caraballo, a transgender activist and instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, called the proposed changes to Title IX a “backwards betrayal” that distracts from more important issues, like statewide bans on gender-affirming health care.

“He could have just done nothing,” Caraballo wrote. “This is legitimizing transphobia.”


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