In an interview with ESPN, US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said transgender athletes have the right to compete. He suggested that the Biden administration will look at measures to protect these students against a rising number of anti-transgender bills around the country.
As the nation celebrated the first day of Pride Month on June 1, Florida passed a bill effectively banning transgender women from participating in female sports.
Florida joins states such as Montana and West Virginia that have passed similar legislation. Lawmakers claim that these initiatives help save women’s sports, but such claims have been met with harsh criticism from LGBT+ organizations.
In light of these bans, Cardona stated that it is “nonnegotiable that we’re going to protect the civil rights of all students.”
“I do believe in local control. I do believe in state control, but we do have a responsibility to protect the civil rights of students. And if we feel the civil rights are being violated, we will act,” Cardona told ESPN.
“Our LGBTQ students have endured more harassment than most other groups. It’s critically important that we stand with them and give them opportunities to engage in what every other child can engage in without harassment,” he added.
Anti-Trans Movement in Sports
Cardona, who was previously the commissioner of education in Connecticut, remarked that a lawsuit in Connecticut pushed him to further support transgender athletes.
In 2019, three cisgender female athletes in high school filed a suit in Connecticut, arguing that having to compete against transgender females is unfair and discriminatory. Their objective was to oppose the policy that allows transgender people to compete based on their gender identity and not their sex at birth.
However, according to Cordona, it is every transgender student’s “right…to participate in these activities.”
“We know sports does more than just put ribbons on the first, second, and third-place winner. We know that it provides opportunities for students to become a part of a team, to learn a lot about themselves, to set goals and reach them and to challenge themselves. Athletics provides that in our K-12 systems and in our colleges, and all students deserve an opportunity to engage in that,” Cardona said.