Defend Title IX now. This is the slogan that South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem unveiled at a press conference on March 22 announcing a new initiative to protect Title IX and women’s sports – while defending her recent decision to Dump HB 1217 Equity in Women’s Sports It was hard not to see the press conference as a political theater designed to turn and distract.
HB 1217 is vital legislation. We are seeing more and more cases of women being forced to compete in sports against men who identify as women, ignoring the fact that men are generally bigger, faster and stronger than such gifted and trained women. . It’s biology – it’s science. A man’s belief in his gender does not erase his physical advantage over women, and it is not fair for female athletes to claim otherwise. To illustrate, in 2017 alone, 285 boys under 18 surpassed this year’s best women’s time in the 400 meters.
This is why legislation like the South Dakota Women’s Equity in Sport Act is so important. However, Noem deleted some of the most important provisions of the bill. One of them has strengthened the protection of female athletes by providing legal recourse against schools when athletes face unfair policies – like that of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, which currently allows men to compete in women’s teams. Noem’s justification? She did not want to create “unnecessary litigation”. But if the girls have no recourse, they have no enforceable right. The governor’s action made the protections almost meaningless.
Unfortunately, Noem didn’t stop there. She completely eliminated the protections in the bill for varsity athletes. The need for fair competition and athletic opportunities for women does not change when they leave a high school campus to enter college. Noem’s decision means that injustice for girls is only delayed, not stopped.
The governor claimed the move was necessary in order to follow NCAA rules, and she doubled down on that explanation at her press conference. But such a rule does not exist. The NCAA simply allows member colleges to allow men who have undergone testosterone suppression for a year to compete on women’s teams, but that’s not require any college to allow biological males to compete in female teams. The political language of the NCAA is permissive, not mandatory.
The reality is that Noem is giving in to pressure from the NCAA – even though the NCAA hasn’t retaliated against Idaho, Mississippi or Arkansas, all of which have passed very similar bills. He also did not retaliate against the 14 state attorneys general who signed a brief in support of Idaho’s legislation. Nor has he taken action against the many religious colleges that have similar policies for their athletic programs. And even if the NCAA tried to impose its will on state policy in this way, there would be a strong argument that it is a “state actor”, exposing it to liability. legal. Trying to appease “awakened” special interests by gutting the bill’s protections for college female athletes is a far cry from the courage Noem has shown in other contexts.
Which brings us to the aforementioned “initiative” of Noem to “defend Title IX”. During her press conference, the governor introduced herself as a long-time champion of female athletes and announced the launch of a coalition to protect Title IX and fairness in women’s sport. But such a coalition has been around for years. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. And more specifically, Noem has never shown much interest until now. (His website was thrown together the day before her press conference.) To use a sports analogy, she’s been a passive spectator, arrived late for the game, and now wants to act like she’s been the coach.
Noem’s actions over the past few days have threatened to undermine the movement to protect equity for women by distorting what the bills do, why they are needed, and the real facts on the ground. We’re grateful Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson didn’t take the bait and signed a similar bill on Thursday that protects every girl and woman, from Kindergarten to Grade 12 through college, and provides them with a legal remedy in the event of violation of their rights. Governor Noem can always do the same and become a champion on this issue. We are ready to help you.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.