It’s no wonder Betsy DeVos drives the Left nuts.
As the political Left goes all atwitter about a transgender-related issue that could massively help conservatives in this fall’s elections, the Education Department under Secretary DeVos follows the law quite reasonably – but in ways that tie the Left into knots.
Witness the wedge DeVos is driving between homosexual activists and transgender agitators. It’s a wedge her department drove more deeply on Thursday night with a referral letter to the Justice Department. The letter requests a consequential investigation into seven Connecticut jurisdictions for allowing biological males to compete in girls’ sports.
Yet, lest anyone accuse DeVos and her team of anti-gay bigotry, the same department is siding with an Alabama high school girl denied a spot on a school squad specifically because she is a lesbian. One would think that would make the cultural Left happy, but no: The web site Outsports is outraged at the audacity of DeVos distinguishing between a lesbian, whose case DeVos’ team is supporting, and boys trying to compete as girls, whose cause the department is opposing.
The administration is “sending a mixed message to America’s schools,” write Outsports’ Dawn Ennis. What’s wrong, she writes, is that DeVos is “once again using that telltale phrase relied upon by bigots, TERFs, and transphobes everywhere: biological sex.” (TERF apparently stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. Really.)
So here we have the Left, which fancies itself the defender of science, furiously reacting against the indisputable science that there is such a thing as biological sex. Rather than being a recognition of basic reality, “biological sex” is now to be treated as a catchphrase for bigotry. Never mind the established and patently obvious fact, reconfirmed last week for purposes of the Olympics by the Swiss Supreme Court, that biological males have massively higher amounts of testosterone, and almost always significantly larger proportions of muscle mass, than females do.
Anyway, DeVos’ team for months has been advising school districts in Connecticut that their practice of allowing boys-who-identify-as-girls to compete in girls athletics is a violation of the famous Title IX rules guaranteeing female student-athletes equal treatment (including funding requirements) with male students. On August 31, it reaffirmed that conclusion, in light of questions raised by this year’s Bostock Supreme Court case creating legally actionable workplace rights for transgender people.
DeVos’ team quite rightly noted that Bostock involved Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, not Title IX of the Education Act Amendments of 1972. The two provisions address entirely different subjects in entirely different ways. Indeed, the Supreme Court itself wrote in Bostock that its decision on Title VII does not “affect” unrelated federal or state laws, including those regarding issues such as “sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes.”
Facing continued intransigence to its August 31 notice from six Connecticut school districts and the state’s main athletic conference, DeVos on September 17 gave notice of her department’s referrals to the Justice Department, asking Justice for “appropriate judicial relief” against those jurisdictions. As the August notice had exhaustively detailed, the participation of biological males in girls’ sports has directly deprived several girls of spots in state championship contests and in the New England Regional Championships, materially affecting their resumés, and even ability to garner scholarships, for college – not to mention high school awards and recognition in local papers and the like.
On the other hand, DeVos’ team is intervening on behalf of the lesbian student in Alabama. Unlike biological males competing as female, the lesbian’s participation in a school color guard would confer no unfair advantage on her. Her sexual proclivities give her no extra testosterone, muscle mass, or other competitive edge. Instead, the school’s refusal to let her participate just because she “likes girls” is a rank unfairness perpetrated against her.
Leftists such as Ennis of Outsports can’t stand seeing homosexuality separated from transgenderism because it deprives the latter of political power. The differences, though, both legally and practically, are immense. They are differences that all-time-great tennis star Martina Navratilova and others have insisted upon in advocating the exact same legal distinctions DeVos is asserting this month.
Most people in the real world understand this without any problem. DeVos’ team has it right: A boy can “like” a boy and a girl can “like” a girl, but boys (past puberty) have physical attributes no surgeon can undo. It is decidedly unfair, and by Title IX still illegal, to force girls to compete against them.