ND among states suing over Biden transgender rule threatening female sports

Photo: UND Athletics / Kerry Ring

The North Dakota Legislature passed and Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill into law last year that prohibits transgender athletes from participating on female K-12 and college level sports teams in the state. But a new Biden administration mandate set to take effect in August effectively wipes out state protections for female athletes.

“Every student should be able to have the full experience of attending school in America, including participating in athletics, free from discrimination,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “Being on a sports team is an important part of the school experience for students of all ages.”

The rule forces schools across the country to allow biological males calling themselves transgender to compete against girls and women, or else, face a potential cut in federal funding. As a result, the State of North Dakota has joined five other states in a federal lawsuit to stop the rule from taking effect, according to The Forum.

Attorney General Drew Wrigley announced Tuesday, May 7, that North Dakota is a plaintiff in a federal civil suit against the U.S. Department of Education. The suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, seeks to stop a rule that would allow anyone to join a gender-assigned sport based on their gender identity.

“Congress enacted Title IX more than 50 years ago to protect and promote opportunities for women and girls in education and sports,” Wrigley’s news release said. “President (Joe) Biden and his Department of Education are now casting aside the work of Congress and radically reinterpreting Title IX as a rule about subjective gender identity.”

The North Dakota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the the state’s move to partner with Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska and Arkansas in challenging the constitutionality of the controversial administration rule.

In a statement to The Forum, Cody Schuler, ACLU of North Dakota advocacy manager, called the lawsuit “political grandstanding” and an “attempt to erase transgender people from society” while appealing to anti-trans activists.

The lawsuit contends Biden administration officials have abused the rule making process to force schools to comply with radical changes to landmark Title IX legislation that they could never get passed by Congress.

“The rule being challenged requires schools and universities to allow men onto women and girls’ sports teams, undermining safety and privacy, and robbing young female athletes of opportunities,” Wrigley said in the release.

The lawsuit criticized the rule by claiming it would “destroy the privacy protections women and girls currently enjoy in restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, and overnight accommodations.” School staff, teachers and students could face punishment if they fail to use a person’s “preferred pronouns,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit notes that the attempt to redefine sex under Title IX dates to 2014 when “President Obama’s Department of Education suddenly attempted to radically redefine sex and recast Title IX as a regulation about gender identity, rather than sex.” When the Obama administration’s guidelines instructing schools to use preferred pronouns and to allow self-identified transgender individuals access to women’s locker rooms was challenged in court, the so-call guidance was rescinded.