U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) authored the following op-ed in the National Review outlining his reintroduction of the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act to preserve Title IX protections and ensure safe, fair competition for female athletes. The reintroduction of this legislation comes as the U.S. Department of Education is moving forward to implement new rules in May that will allow biological males to compete in girls’ and women’s sports beginning in the 2023-2024 school year.
As a coach, you train the athletes on your team to prepare well, play hard, and finish strong. Your athletes, in return, trust and expect you to make the right calls to help them win. Finding a successful game strategy can be challenging because you are constantly evaluating and adjusting it based on the team’s performance. It is rare to find one perfect game strategy that can apply to all teams and talents.
However, 50 years ago, we discovered a winning strategy for all of America’s female athletes: Title IX. Signed into law in 1972, the 37 words of this relatively simple legislation empowered women to win by leveling the playing field and providing them access to the same athletic opportunities that their male counterparts enjoyed.
That level playing field is now under attack by activists who care more about politics than what’s best for female athletes. Their undoing of the success of Title IX, by forcing institutions to allow biological males to compete against women and girls, is an obscene distortion of the law and a slap in the face to hardworking female athletes across the country.
We must protect women’s sports. That is why … I reintroduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act to push back against the far left’s attempts to destroy women’s sports, and to preserve the opportunities they have provided female athletes for half a century. My legislation would require institutions to recognize an athlete’s gender as what it was at birth and stop giving federal funding to any program or institution that allows biological males in women’s sports.
Numbers prove the undeniable success of Title IX. Since the law’s enactment, participation in female sports has increased by more than 600 percent, which has also made educational opportunities for young women more accessible. During the last 50 years, the number of female college graduates in the United States increased dramatically from 8 to 40 percent.
Sadly, President Joe Biden’s Department of Education is taking a wrecking ball to Title IX and opting for a new agenda that puts female athletes on the losing side. The very law that was created to bring about fairness and protection for women’s sports is being used to force women to the sidelines.
Last year, on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the Department of Education proposed a new rule to allow biological males to compete in women’s sports, citing the change as more “inclusive.” I submitted a public comment to the proposed rule change and discussed seeing the positive impacts of Title IX firsthand, four years after its enactment, while coaching girls’ basketball at Hermitage High School in Arkansas.
But like those of many other athletes, coaches, educators, and parents, my concerns were ignored by Secretary Miguel Cardona as the Department of Education charged ahead with plans to finalize this change in May. It’s expected that the rule will go into effect for the 2023–24 school year, meaning that many coaches will have to begin opening their girls’ and women’s teams, fields, and locker rooms to biological males — or face the consequences.
That is not safe, and it is not fair.
There is nothing inclusive about forcing female athletes who train all their lives in hopes of achieving first place to instead compete for second, third, and fourth place because the top spot is invariably taken by athletes who have obvious physical advantages associated with their gender. Biological men have won 28 women’s sports titles since 2003.
This number will only increase when the boundaries are completely removed.
Riley Gaines, a former twelve-time All-American swimmer, has bravely shared her experience of being forced to share a locker room with a biological male who took the top spot from her and her female competitors at the 2021 NCAA championships. Riley worked for that honor all her life yet had to give up her achievements to an unfairly advantaged competitor because the NCAA didn’t stand up for her.
It’s shameful. Countless other women and girls stand to endure the same treatment if these Title IX protections are removed.
Our leaders, especially our representatives in Congress, do not have the right to say they support girls and women if they stand by and do nothing as women’s opportunities are stripped away.
Millions of current and future female athletes are looking to us, and we must keep a successful, fair game plan in place. Female athletes deserve recognition for their successes on and off the field. That recognition must start with action to ensure that the field remains level for generations to come.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.