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Arkansas’ Griffin, other GOP AGs decry Biden’s proposed transgender student athlete rule

By: - May 17, 2023 7:41 pm

Rebekah Bruesehoff, a transgender student athlete, speaks at a news conference on LGBTQI+ rights, at the U.S. Capitol on March 8, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin and chief legal officers in 18 other states have opposed President Joe Biden’s proposed rule that would allow transgender students at public schools to participate in sports according to their gender identities.

Griffin said in a Monday letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona that “several biological males who identify as girls” are “sometimes knocking biological girls off the winners’ podium” by playing girls’ sports.

In April, the U.S. Department of Education proposed amending Title IX to codify protections for transgender student athletes in public schools by prohibiting blanket state bans on those athletes. Arkansas is one of 21 states with such a law, and other states are considering similar legislation.

The Biden administration rule “second-guesses the legislative judgment of a growing number of states” and “prioritizes ‘affirmation’ over biology,” Griffin wrote.

The proposal would allow a school to exclude transgender athletes from particular sports and grade levels if the school can show it has a particular need to do so and takes steps to minimize harm caused to those excluded.

Any exclusion must be “substantially related to the achievement of an important educational objective,” according to the text of the proposed rule released April 6.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin. (John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

Griffin’s 15-page letter joins a chorus of opposition to the rule from the Republican attorneys general of Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

The state attorneys have sent the Department of Education several individual letters, led by different states. The letters claim that allowing “biological males” to participate in girls’ and women’s sports creates a disadvantage for cisgender female athletes.

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach’s letter notes that several men and boys have run a mile in less than four minutes while no woman has done so.

Shortly before the Biden administration released the proposed rule, Kansas became the 20th state to ban transgender students from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. The Republican-controlled Legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto.

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Tess Vrbin
Tess Vrbin

Tess Vrbin came to the Advocate from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where she reported on low-income housing and tenants' rights, and won awards for her coverage of 2021 flooding and tornado damage in rural Arkansas. She previously covered local government for The Commercial Dispatch in Mississippi and state government for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri.