The University Interscholastic League, the body that regulates high school athletics in Texas public schools, has proposed a new rule that might have the effect of banning transgender student athletes, if approved by district superintendents.
The Texas Standard had an interview this morning with Kiah Collier, who raised the issue in the Texas Tribune:
The governing body for Texas high school sports decided Monday to ask superintendents to determine whether to formalize a policy that uses student-athletes’ birth certificates to determine their gender.
Such a policy already is informally used by the body, the University Interscholastic League, or UIL, whose 32-member legislative council on Monday passed on an opportunity to vote on the proposed rule. Instead, the council decided to send it to the superintendents of member districts — with a recommendation that they approve it.
Critics say the policy effectively bars transgender students from playing sports.
The move comes amid increased focus nationwide on transgender issues. In Texas, residents of the state’s largest city are preparing to vote Nov. 3 on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which would ban discrimination based on characteristics including gender identity, sexual orientation, sex, race, color, age, pregnancy and religion.
Notwithstanding the probable harm to students themselves, this policy looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen, based on recent cases and guidance related to federal Title IX:
While a UIL spokeswoman told the Texas Tribune the rule has been informally applied in the past, Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center, said it looks problematic.
“On the surface this appears to go against the Department of Education’s application that gender identity is protected under sex discrimination Title IX,” he said.
Title IX is the federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in any federally funded education program. In 2014, the Department of Education extended the protections to transgender students.
Many states have passed laws allowing transgender student-athletes to play sports based on their identity.
As a graduate of the Texas public school system, I can say that UIL has often done silly things that waste people’s time and taxes patience. But I can’t say they’ve earnestly tried to get school districts sued.