As schools reopen after the summer break, more states are passing laws to protect the rights of female athletes from males who want to compete in women’s sports. The issue has moved to the forefront of parents concerned about their daughters being injured on the field and school districts afraid they’ll be liable when a biological male injures a female student as has already occurred.
The state of Missouri is about to enact a similar law later this month, further confirming the national trend to protect women’s sports. Kansas (which overrode the Democrat governor’s veto), North Dakota and Wyoming have already enacted new legal measures to protect the rights of female athletes, a move that brings the number of such states to 23.
These newly established protections for female athletes are one aspect of a larger wave of legislation spreading across the country aimed at addressing concerns about individuals, who are male by birth, competing in women’s sports categories. This legislative effort, led by Republican lawmakers in several states, extends beyond sports to include areas such as restrictions on breast and penis removal or the surgical creation of vaginas in children and dangerous and often irreversible hormone treatments.
In the coming weeks, North Carolina is poised to join that list, with Ohio expected to follow suit next fall. However, some laws, including those from Arizona and West Virginia, have been temporarily suspended due to pending federal legal challenges.
Since 2020, these sports regulations have been gradually implemented, with the greatest focus on cases where individuals born male want to compete in sports classes with women. These include both intramural competitions within schools to competitions between different schools.
A common theme across these laws is empowering students and their parents to take legal action against educational institutions that violate the protections for women’s sports outlined in federal law and upheld by the Constitution. Data shows that girls and women are increasingly injured by biological males being allowed to compete as females.
In jurisdictions like Oklahoma, relying on a student’s original birth certificate has become a major factor in determining athletic team participation. Principals and coaches are responsible for enforcement, and in Oklahoma, athletes or their parents must submit an annual affidavit confirming a student’s biological sex at birth.
In states like Kansas, school officials may look at a birth certificate first if there are questions about an athlete’s eligibility. Reception of these regulations varied widely, with some states receiving relatively neutral responses. Bill Faflick, executive director of the Kansas State High School Activity Association, reported specific adoption during rule seminars among administrators and coaches in his state.
“It has not been met with any resistance and has not been met with any outpouring of support or opposition, one way or the other,” Faflick said.
In Missouri, the new law bans biolgical males from participating in girls’ or womens’ s ports from elementary through the college level. It also applies to both public and private institutions. The law would expire in 2027 because of concessions made by Republicans to Democrats.
Advocates of these restrictions argue that they maintain fair competition and defend hard-won scholarship opportunities young women have enjoyed for decades. They argue that the inherent physical advantages in speed, strength and lung capacity of prepubescent boys create an uneven playing field.
Tom Horne is the elected superintendent of Republican state school Superintendent in Arizona and is now defending his state’s law in federal court. He expressed bewilderment at the lack of sympathy for female athletes whose sports careers may be affected. “It’s a puzzlement to me that more people aren’t feeling sympathy for the girls whose sports careers are ruined,” he said.
–Metro Voice and wire services