RALEIGH — North Carolina State Superintendent Catherine Truitt has taken a position on the proposed changes to Title IX by the Biden administration’s Department of Education that would force states to allow biological men to be able to compete on women’s sports teams based on the male’s gender identity.
In a May 1 letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Truitt asked the administration to “maintain the intent of Title IX as it pertains to safety and fairness in women’s sports.”
“I am writing to request that your Department of Education maintain the intent of Title IX as it pertains to safety and fairness in women’s sports,” wrote Truitt. “Under no circumstance can we assume that Congress, when crafting this important law forty years ago, fathomed a biological male playing competitive sports in an all-female league or competition at any level. The current proposed rule from the Department of Education would undermine the intent of Title IX, which was to increase opportunities for female athletes.”
Truitt went on to say that she believes “we need to protect the integrity of women’s sports.”
“As a mom to two daughters who are currently college and high school athletes respectively, I strongly believe we must maintain a level playing field in women’s sports — one where biological sex supersedes gender preference,” Truitt wrote. “There are inherent and intrinsic biological differences between men and women that impact athletic performance.”
The superintendent went on to list differences in strength, speed and endurance that can impact outcomes in sports. She also cited medical studies showing an “average 10-12% performance gap between elite males and elite females,” that “is almost entirely attributable … to the production of testosterone.”
“Biological differences help explain why competitive sports have traditionally separated biological males from that of females. This is precisely why the true intent of Title IX is so important,” wrote Truitt. “We can respect individual gender preferences without reconstructing Title IX to inherently disadvantage women. Biological sex must be the basis for sporting events.”
She added that the proposed rule “robs female athletes of those very opportunities Title IX is supposed to protect as this reconstructed mandate reduces her odds for a podium finish.”
“My hope is that the Department of Education not only considers the original intent of Title IX, but also truly recognizes the biological differences at play here when formalizing this ruling for our country,” Truitt wrote in closing. “The inherent and intrinsic biological differences between men and women that impact athletic performance is indisputable, and that is why Title IX has existed as it has for forty years.”
The North Carolina General Assembly has taken up the issue of biological men in women’s sports, with each chamber approving a bill on the issue.
House Bill 574 and Senate Bill 631 are nearly identical and both titled the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” Both bills have passed their respective chambers and are very likely to be combined and sent to Gov. Roy Cooper.
Cooper is expected to veto the measures, and a veto override may be successful with Republicans holding a supermajority in both chambers and three House Democrats voting for passage of the House version.
The bills, as written, would prevent biological males, including those who identify as transgender females, from playing on female high school and college sports teams.
The only exception is a case where there is no comparable sports team for females available and the sport in question is not a contact sport.
Last year, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita led 22 states in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tennessee over the Biden administration’s revival of an Obama-era interpretation of Title IX “to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” North Carolina was not part of the lawsuit.
In 2016, the Obama administration issued a letter citing Title IX and including guidance requiring schools to grant students access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on a student’s self-declared gender identity. The guidance also compelled the usage of a student’s preferred pronouns and required that a student be able to join a male or female sports team based on their self-announced gender identity.
Three months after the letter was issued, a U.S. District Court judge in Texas blocked the guidance, ruling that redefining sex under Title IX in that manner violated the law. In February 2017, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era Title IX guidance altogether.