WASHINGTON — A Democratic congresswoman has teamed up with a Republican congressman to introduce a bill in the U.S. House that would prohibit biological men who identify as women from competing in girls’ sports.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma announced H.R. 8932, the Protect Women’s Sports Act, on Thursday.
While the text of the measure was not available by press time, as summary of the bill states that “for purposes of determining compliance with title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in athletics, sex shall be determined on the basis of biological sex as determined at birth by a physician.”
Title IX states that “[n]o person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” The federal statute was written by Rep. Pasty Mink, also of Hawaii, who sought to provide equal opportunity for females in sports.
“Working with Representative Edith Starrett Green of Oregon and Senator Birch Evans Bayh of Indiana, Mink built critical support for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which barred sexual discrimination in institutions receiving federal funds and opened opportunities for women in athletics,” the House of Representatives website outlines.
Mink continued to speak about “educational equity” for women in the years that followed, including in 1993 when she co-sponsored the Gender Equity Act.
In releasing a statement on her bill on Thursday, Gabbard noted Mink’s motive behind Title IX, opining that it is being distorted and is thus is counteractive to the statute’s original intent of providing equal opportunities for girls in sports.
“Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes,” she stated.
“Our legislation protects Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex. It is critical that the legacy of Title IX continues to ensure women and girls in sports have the opportunity to compete and excel on a level playing field.”
Mullin made similar comments, remarking that “[a]llowing biological males to compete in women’s sports diminishes that equality and takes away from the original intent of Title IX.”
“As the father of three girls involved in athletics, I want them to be able to compete on a level playing field,” he stated. “I am proud to lead this bill that will safeguard the integrity of women’s sports and ensure female athletes can compete fairly.”
As previously reported, a similar bill was presented in the Senate in September, as Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, Mike Lee of Utah, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Tom Cotton of Arkansas presented the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act.”
“It shall be a violation … for a recipient of federal funds who operates, sponsors, or facilitates athletic programs or activities to permit a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls,” that bill reads.
Earlier this year, three girls who run high school track filed a lawsuit to challenge a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) policy allowing students to compete in accordance with their stated “gender identity.”
Two biological boys were permitted to join the girls track team at their school and compete as females as a result of the policy — moving on to the New England regionals.
The female competitors believe that the boys have an unfair advantage and have kept them from qualifying for races that they otherwise would have been able to participate in.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights sided with the girls in June, finding that the policy “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities, including advancing to the finals in events, higher level competitions, awards, medals, recognition, and the possibility of greater visibility to colleges and other benefits.”