The Biden administration proposed a Title IX rule change on Thursday that would forbid schools from enacting outright bans on transgender athletes from teams that are consistent with their gender identities, but offered some flexibility for “fairness in competition” and other exceptions.
The proposed rule change would make “categorically” banning all transgender students from athletic teams that are consistent with their gender identities a violation of Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination at educational institutions that receive federal funding.
But it would also allow K-12 schools and universities to limit the participation of transgender students when including them could underground fairness or potentially lead to sports-related injuries.
“Every student should be able to have the full experience of attending school in America, including participating in athletics, free from discrimination,” Miguel Cardona, the US Secretary of Education, said in a statement.
The Department of Education said the proposal was meant to offer “much needed clarity” about how public schools, as well as colleges and universities, should handle an issue that has led to intense and often vocal debate, particularly when it comes to the question of women’s sports.
Under the proposed rules, which must undergo a period of public comment, elementary school students would generally be able to participate in school sports consistent with their gender identity. But for older students, questions of fairness and physicality could come into play.
The impact could also vary across numerous sports, ranging from track to badminton.
“They would need to take into account the specific sport,” a senior official with the US Department of Education said on Thursday.
This is a developing story and will be updated.