Title IX and women's sports: The what and the why

Title IX and women's sports: The what and the why

While in high school, Connecticut athlete Selina Soule was consistently deprived of elite-level honors and opportunities because of state policies at odds with Title IX.

Title IX and women's sports: The what and the why

Today (June 23) is the 50th anniversary of Title IX – and an attorney explains why it is just as important today as it was then.

Title IX states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." In other words, if female students are involved in or want to be part of the athletics program, federally funded schools – which are the bulk of schools – are required to have a fair and level playing field.

But attorney Christiana Kiefer of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) points out that many female athletes are being denied a fair and level playing field today as a result of having to compete with biological males claiming to identify as females.

Kiefer, Christiana (ADF) Kiefer

"Title IX has promised women so much – a fair chance to compete, opportunities to excel at college, and skills that apply to all areas of life," Kiefer said this week at an ADF press conference. "But all of this is being threatened by the unscientific idea that a man can be a woman."

Related ADF case: Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools

Liberal groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that biological males identifying as females should be allowed to compete in women's sports. The ACLU also dismisses claims that biological males have a physiological advantage over female competitors. Kiefer, however, disagrees.

"Males are generally bigger, faster, and stronger," she noted. "They have larger hearts and greater lung capacity, denser bones and stronger muscles."

According to Kiefer, these physical characteristics give males a 10%-to-50% performance advantage over comparably fit and trained female athletes – which she said means "no amount of hormones or testosterone suppression can undo those physical advantages."

Today, some states (including Connecticut) allow males to compete in female sports. Other states have taken steps to prevent males from competing in female sports. Supporters of those laws or policies say it is meant to ensure fairness and protect the female athletes' Title IX rights.

"[But] it only takes one male athlete to displace a woman from the championship spot; three to eliminate women from their podium altogether," said Kiefer. "This is wrong, and it must be stopped."