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Mullin' It Over Column

The 50th Anniversary of Title IX

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. For the past five decades, Title IX has protected women in educational programs from discrimination on the basis of sex. The law applies to all educational programs that receive federal funding and covers admissions, financial aid, sexual harassment, athletic facilities, and much more. Since its implementation, the percentage of female high school graduates who enroll in college has gone from 43 percent to 71 percent today.

Title IX has allowed countless women athletes the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. Before Title IX, less than 5 percent of girls played sports. Today, that number is closer to 40 percent. Despite incredible progress, unfortunately, these protections are now under attack.

The Biden Administration recently announced a plan to expand the definition of Title IX to include gender identity. This means a biological male who identifies as a female can be afforded the same protections. This change would diminish the very foundation on which Title IX was based.

When women are forced to compete against biological males, the level playing field is obsolete. We’ve already begun to see this happening. In 2018, 275 high school boys ran faster times than the lifetime best of World Champion sprinter Allyson Felix. Earlier this year, Lia Thomas, University of Pennsylvania swimmer and biological male, won the NCAA D1 500-meter National Championship. In Connecticut, high school female runners filed a lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference after being deprived of state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two biological male sprinters. 

I am grateful for states like Oklahoma who have taken measures to protect female student athletes. FINA, the governing body for aquatic sports, has also recently announced new guidelines that prohibit biological males who have transitioned after the age of twelve from competing against women. It’s a step in the right direction. However, the Biden Administration’s new rule will override these protections and circumvent the ability for states to ensure fairness for all athletes.

It’s not just unfair competition – it’s unsafe. All three of my daughters compete in wrestling which is a combative sport. As they get older, it will become increasingly more dangerous for them to compete on the mat against biological men. That is why I fully intend to counter this dangerous rule as soon as it is implemented using the power of Congressional Review. 

There is no doubt that Title IX has given female athletes life changing opportunities. Countering the intent of Title IX undermines female competitors and limits these opportunities not just for competition but for scholarships as well. If our laws do not recognize the biological difference between men and women, female athletes will be the ones who suffer the consequences.

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