The Biden administration handed down proposed guidance Thursday that would permit public schools and colleges to ban transgender athletes from competitive teams but forbid them from issuing blanket bans, a move framed as a compromise that is likely to infuriate LGBT activists.
"The proposed rule … recognizes that in some instances, particularly in competitive high school and college athletic environments, some schools may adopt policies that limit transgender students’ participation," the Department of Education said.
Schools would not be able to impose total bans but could still maintain their own "participation policies" on the matter. The proposal would require schools seeking to bar transgender athletes from sports "to show that the decision relates to an important educational objective and minimizes harm to others," according to the Washington Post.
The proposal comes as Republicans have passed state guidance barring transgender athletes across the country, policies that have been fought by LGBT activists. Kansas is the latest state, with the Republican legislature overriding the Democratic governor’s veto to ban trans athletes. It’s the 20th state to pass such a ban.
The administration’s compromise policy will likely upset transgender activists, the Washington Post reported;
The decision was likely to upset the administration’s allies in the LGBTQ community, who have opposed these bans as discriminatory and harmful to vulnerable youth. They say the prohibitions are part of an organized campaign to nullify the right of transgender people to even exist.
The administration said its proposal was aimed at "minimizing harms" to transgender athletes. Schools would be required to set polices that "cause less harm" if possible, and if they don’t, they might be found in violation of federal law.
Democrats across the country have fiercely opposed Republican-led legislation on trans issues. A Nebraska Democrat said she would "burn the session to the ground" to stop a ban on child sex-change surgeries. Virginia Democrats are fighting to abolish single-sex bathrooms in the state’s public schools.