Joe Biden slammed over ‘troubling’ proposal allowing schools to ban some trans kids from sport

President Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s administration has brought forward proposals which would forbid blanket bans on trans student-athletes, but would still allow schools to “justify” barring trans children from playing sports in certain cases. 

The proposal was announced on Thursday (6 April) and, if finalised, would become a provision of Title IX, a 50-year-old civil rights law which prohibits discrimination in schools based on sex. 

In a factsheet shared by the US Department of Education, the proposal – which is subject to public comment – states that elementary school students would “generally” be able to play on sports teams “consistent with their gender identity”.

It also notes that schools would find it “particularly difficult” to justify excluding a trans pupil from participation. 

However, for high school and college students, the proposal outlines “sex-related criteria that limit participation of some transgender students may be permitted” if it can be justified on educational grounds, for example “fairness in competition”.  

In the press release, secretary of education Miguel Cardona said: “Every student should be able to have the full experience of attending school in America, including participating in athletics, free from discrimination. 

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“Being on a sports team is an important part of the school experience for students of all ages.”

The move comes as 20 states across the United States have implemented a wave of restrictions on trans pupils taking part in sports, alongside other sweeping anti-LGBTQ+ laws that target trans and queer students. 

Joe Biden’s proposal appears to attempt to mitigate this, but by allowing discrimination in certain situations, it has also been slammed as not truly protecting trans pupils from bigotry. 

Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York’s 14th district in the House of Representatives, blasted the proposal as “indefensible and embarrassing”, saying there is “absolutely no reason for the Biden admin to do this”. 

Scott Skinner-Thompson, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School who specialises in LGBTQ+ issues, told The Washington Post: “The proposed rule helps clarify that these blanket bans on transgender athletes are in violation of Title IX and is a really positive development.” 

However, Skinner-Thompson called allowing exclusion in some cases “deeply troubling”, stating: “When it comes to the hard cases, this is saying that trans kids can be discriminated against.” 

At a press briefing on Thursday (6 April), White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration recognises that this week has been one of the “worst” for anti-LGBTQ+ bills. 

“LGBTQI+ kids are resilient, they are fierce, they fight back. They’re not going anywhere. And we have their back. This administration has their back,” she said. “We are so proud of the kids across this country who have organised protests and school walkouts to tell the politicians in their states to stop this legislative bullying.” 

“I know that these political attacks can really take a toll on people’s mental health. So I want to say directly to LGBTQI+ kids, you are loved just as you are, just the way you are.”

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