July 24th, 2024


Splitting the difference, or just splitting?

Cal Thomas

By Cal Thomas

Published April 11, 2023

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines.
The Biden administration thinks it has found a compromise when it comes to transgender athletes who wish to play on women's sports teams.

New proposed regulations under Title IX, the 50-year-old law passed in 1972 which "prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, will now include partial protection for transgender athletes participating in previously women's competitions.

According to The Washington Post: "(The) proposed new regulations … would allow schools to bar transgender athletes from participating in competitive high school and college sports, but disallow blanket bans on the athletes that have been approved across the country.

"The rules would narrow when discrimination of trans athletes would be permitted. But they also would offer guidelines for when schools could bar their participation."

It sounds to me that males who have not reached puberty can play with girls (don't they already do that on playgrounds?), but older children who have reached puberty, giving males an advantage because of strength, could be separated into their traditional all male or all female teams.

It's still complicated because under the proposal biology alone won't be enough to justify separation of the sexes. Schools would need to consider other factors before banning males from female teams and the reverse, including basing their decisions on education grounds, and the need for fairness. Will the government define what is fair? As the Post puts it: "…a school district could justify a ban on transgender athletes on their competitive high school track and field team, whereas a district would have a harder time making that case for an intramural middle-school kickball squad."

There's still the question of locker rooms and showers.

Six Republican senators have sent a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona seeking answers about his department's intention to include "gender identity" as a protected category under Title IX.

What if you disagree that transgender athletes should be allowed to play women's sports? Take the recent incident at San Francisco State University where 23 year-old Riley Gaines, a female swimming champion, was ambushed by trans activists and allegedly struck several times following her speech about saving women's sports.


According to the Daily Mail, Gaines' husband, Louis Barker, said he had brief conversations with his wife while she was locked in a room for nearly three hours.

A Gallup poll taken last year found "a record high 50 percent of Americans rate the overall state of moral values in the U.S. as 'poor' and another 37 percent say it is only 'fair.'"

Those who uphold what used to be called traditional values will see this latest battle over gender identity as another sign of moral decline. They see secular progressives as always getting their way — from abortion to what is taught in public schools -- while always having to defend themselves against charges they are bigots, or various types of "- phobes."

When wheels come off a vehicle it loses control. When norms are no longer norms for a nation it is evidence of decline.

What's next? It is very likely there will be a next, given our current slide into chaos.

Facebook introduced 58 "gender options" and three preferred pronouns which you can select for yourself regardless of whether they conform to biology. If someone says "that's too far" on what will they base their objection?

G.K. Chesterton said it well: "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions."

Or this from the late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen: "America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded."

Today, the debate is about sports. Tomorrow it's anyone's guess when "off limits" will apply only to signs at a military base or construction site and nowhere else.


Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.