The Equality Act, already passed by the House of Representatives and now under consideration by the Senate, threatens to nullify all the gains women’s athletics have seen since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The House passed the measure May 17 by a vote of 236-173, and 46 senators are cosponsoring the bill in the upper chamber. While few observers expect it to pass the Senate this session, the number of cosponsors and the continuing push for the progressive agenda is alarming to conservatives and those who hold Biblical values.
Among the concerns is the fact that the Equality Act effectively renders women’s athletics meaningless, as biological males who identify as females could find greater success competing against women than they could against other males.
It is already happening. On May 25, Franklin Pierce University senior CeCe Telfer—a biological male who formerly competed on the men’s team—won the NCAA Division II championship in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. And last October, Rachel McKinnon, another biological male, became a world cycling champion, winning the women’s 35-44 age group sprint during the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships.
If the Equality Act were to become law, conservative observers say it would worsen this trend because it would create a civil right for male athletes to identify as females. It would achieve this by making “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” protected classes under nondiscrimination laws.
Some athletic bodies, such as the International Association of Athletics Federations, have attempted to maintain an even playing field for women, ruling that in order to compete as a female, an athlete must be legally recognized as female or intersex, and have a blood testosterone level below 5 nmol/L.
The NCAA, on the other hand, simply has a vaguely worded requirement that a biological male transitioning to female must undergo one calendar year of “testosterone suppression treatment.”
Robert Johnson of Letsrun.com points out that the NCAA policy makes no mention of how much medication should be taken, what the athlete’s blood testosterone level should be or how such a level is to be monitored. Such vagueness opens the door wide to any biological male who might wish to gain notoriety by competing as a female, likely with better results than if he were to compete against other males.
As troubling as the Equality Act would be for girls’ and women’s athletics, its greatest danger comes in its annihilation of religious liberty—a fact recognized even by some who support same-sex marriage.
One such voice is Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia. Laycock told National Review that the Equality Act “goes very far to stamp out religious exemptions. It regulates religious nonprofits. And then it says that [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] does not apply to any claim under the Equality Act. … This is not a good-faith attempt to reconcile competing interests. It is an attempt by one side to grab all the disputed territory and to crush the other side.”
According to the law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, which has argued and won a number of religious freedom cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Equality Act “poses a devastating and unprecedented threat to the religious freedom of business owners and creative professionals nationwide.”
The All For Freedom Coalition points out that among other things, the act would also:
- Allow men who identify as female to participate in business opportunities created exclusively for women
- Force women’s-only shelters, locker rooms and restrooms to be open to men
- Deny federal financial aid to students at faith-based colleges and universities that hold traditional views about marriage and sexuality
- Forbid houses of worship from requiring clergy and other employees to abide by their beliefs about marriage, sexual behavior and distinctions between the sexes
- Undermine the right of parents to direct their child’s education as it requires K-12 schools to adopt harmful policies without parental notification
Franklin Graham recently wrote on Facebook: “Along with 20 other evangelical leaders, I signed an urgent letter appealing to Congressional leaders to vote NO on the Equality Act.” He urged readers to contact their representatives in Congress. “Ask them to protect our families, our children and our future from the Equality Act, which is being called by many the ultimate ‘Inequality Act.’ They need to hear those who care about religious freedom loud and clear. Let’s light up the phones on Capitol Hill and the White House! Call your elected leaders at 202.224.3121.”