In my four decades of coaching young athletes, there has been no greater equalizer for women’s and girls’ sports than Title IX. Unfortunately, President Biden’s recent executive order will set back women’s sports by half a century.
I started my coaching career at Hermitage High School in southern Arkansas, where I coached the boys’ football team and the girls’ basketball team. The work was tough but extremely rewarding. I wanted to make sure the young athletes I coached learned the same lessons that I had learned as a high school athlete: for example, the value of discipline and hard work, how to deal with success and failure, how to motivate and be a leader, and the importance of putting the interests of the team ahead of the individual.
I’ve had a front-row seat to how beneficial Title IX has been for women’s sports. Its enactment a few years before I entered coaching ensured that young female athletes had the same access to funding, facilities, and athletic scholarships as young men received. It is the absolute best thing to happen to women’s athletics.
The opportunities secured by Title IX ensured that young girls growing up had the benefits of team sports at their fingertips, and because of this law, we have seen women’s sports soar in popularity over the last 50 years. Today, America’s female athletes are routinely the best-performing on the world stage, both in team and individual competitions.
Biden’s order puts this hard-won progress at serious risk.
I’ve coached and officiated young athletes from all over the country and with every kind of background, and I’ve witnessed the positive outlet and escape that sports provide. The locker rooms were often spaces of safety and security. But now, I, along with so many parents, educators, and athletes, fear Biden’s order and the policies that it allows will only add uncertainty and confusion in a pivotal time for grade school athletes.
With this order, big government is forcing our schools to make difficult choices: Either let biological males compete in women’s events or potentially face repercussions from the U.S. Department of Education. The order affects nearly every public elementary, middle, and high school in the country. The threat of pulling all federal funds will disgracefully compel districts to submit to the Biden administration’s liberal agenda.
This order is wrong for so many reasons but especially because it rejects the obvious: There are inherent biological differences between men and women. It’s a scientific fact that biological males, on aggregate, are stronger, can run faster, and can jump higher than their female counterparts. To allow biological males to compete against female athletes will sideline many girls and discourage many more from participating in the first place.
We’ve already seen this take place. Transgender athletes in Connecticut have dominated girls’ high school track events at the state level, denying biological girls a fair shot at competition. The affected athletes and parents are outraged — and rightfully so. Wasn’t a fair shot for girls what Title IX was all about?
The Trump administration’s Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education was correct when it ruled that Connecticut’s policies violated the rights of girls in the state guaranteed under Title IX. I have serious concerns that the Biden administration will wrongfully undo this order.
Biden is basing his directive on the Supreme Court’s 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County decision, which extended Title VII employment protections to sexual orientation and gender identity. While I have separate disagreements with that decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch explicitly wrote that the ruling does not “address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.” Further, the court expressly declined to extend its holding to other federal laws, such as Title IX, which prohibit sex discrimination. For Biden to move forward would not only ignore the will of the court, but scientific fact as well.
Title IX gave women and girls the long-denied platform that had always been afforded to men and boys. Biden’s executive order will start to erode that platform.
Sports teach our youth so many valuable life lessons. Let’s not sacrifice the opportunity for our children to learn those lessons on the false altar of political correctness.
Tommy Tuberville is Alabama’s junior U.S. senator.