Education Department issues proposed Title IX rule on sports inclusion


Schools and colleges largely could not ban nonbinary and transgender students from sports teams, the Biden administration said Thursday in a long-promised proposed rule to protect these students from discrimination.

“Every student should be able to have the full experience of attending school in America, including participating in athletics, free from discrimination,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement that included details of the rule.

The proposal comes at a time when states are banning those students from participating on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

“Under the proposed regulation, schools would not be permitted to adopt or apply a one-size-fits-all policy that categorically bans transgender students from participating on teams consistent with their gender identity,” the Education Department said.

More: Education Department acts to advance transgender, nonbinary inclusion in youth sports

What does the proposed rule say?

The Education Department said that its proposed rule:

  • “Would establish that policies violate Title IX when they categorically ban transgender students from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender identity just because of who they are”;
  • “Recognizes that in some instances, particularly in competitive high school and college athletic environments, some schools may adopt policies that limit transgender students’ participation”; and 
  • “Would provide schools with a framework for developing eligibility criteria that protects students from being denied equal athletic opportunity, while giving schools the flexibility to develop their own participation policies.”

How the rule is applied at K-12 schools and colleges could vary. Schools will be able to determine what is right for them under the proposed regulation, including considerations of grade and education level, a senior department official said on a call with reporters Thursday.

“I’m trying not to be prescriptive today,” the official said. “My hope is to offer school communities sufficient information to satisfy the law.”

More: Supreme Court sides with 12-year-old transgender girl fighting West Virginia’s sports ban

What happens next with the proposed rule?

The Education Department will accept comments on the rule for 30 days. After considering those comments, it will craft a final regulation. The proposed rule could remain the same, or be changed or pulled back.

“Today’s proposed rule is designed to support Title IX’s protection for equal athletics opportunity,” Cardona said. “We welcome and encourage public comment on the proposed regulation and will continue working to ensure Title IX’s effective protection for all students.”

What are people saying about the proposal?

Those who support it said:

  • “Transgender youth are an integral part of every school across this country. We applaud the Department of Education for recognizing that the law requires that transgender students must be treated fairly and equally and as respected members of their school communities,” wrote Imani Rupert-Gordon, the executive director of the The National Center for Lesbian Rights in a media release. 

And those who oppose it said:

  • “Title IX was meant to protect women’s sports. Now, Biden is using Title IX to destroy them,” wrote Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee on Twitter. 

More: Wellesley college says no to transgender men: How do other women’s universities stack up?

Contact Kayla Jimenez at Follow her on Twitter at @kaylajjimenez.

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