BOISE — Montana’s Legislature has pushed ahead with its transgender sports ban, even as President Joe Biden took steps against such regulations. On Wednesday morning, Montana’s Judiciary Committee voted in favor of introducing a bill requiring “public school athletic teams to be designated based on biological sex.” The bill would bar transgender women and girls from competing on women’s and girl’s school sports teams.
On Monday, Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, traveled to Montana to testify in favor of the bill. The Montana bill was based on the Ehardt-sponsored “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” that was passed into Idaho law last year. In 2020, Idaho became the first state to pass such legislation. If Montana were to follow suit, it would become the second. Legislators in more than a dozen other states have expressed interest in enacting similar legislation.
However, opposition to the Idaho law may soon come from the federal level. On his first night as president, Biden signed into effect an executive order regarding LGBT rights. The order builds on Bostock v. Clayton County and other Supreme Court decisions to direct all federal agencies to enforce LGBT equality in a variety of places, including employment, housing and health care.
And school sports.
“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” the executive order states.
The executive order specifically includes Title IX as one of the laws the Biden administration will “fully enforce.” Title IX is a federal civil rights law that protects students from discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Title IX is the basis upon which the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho (ACLU) is challenging the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act through a federal complaint on behalf of two Boise students. In August, a federal judge put a temporary block on enforcement of the law while it awaits legal proceedings following that challenge.
Biden’s order requires the head of each federal agency to “review all existing orders, regulations, guidance documents, policies, programs, or other agency actions.” Within 100 days, each head must develop a plan to resolve any places within their agency that are not “fully implementing the policy.”
While it is too early to know what the exact effects of this order will be and what enforcement will look like, it is an indication that the Justice Department may soon begin more serious enforcement of Title IX.