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

Tim Griffin

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.

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.

Tess Vrbin is a reporter with the nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization Arkansas Advocate. It is part of the States Newsroom which is supported by grants and a coalition of readers and donors.