College sports association bans biological men from women’s sports

Lia Thomas Penn University transgender swimmer Lia Thomas celebrates taking first place in the 500-yard freestyle race with a time of 4.37.32 during the championship final race in heat three during the Women's Ivy League Swimming & Diving Championships at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Feb. 17, 2022. | Credit: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) approved a policy on Monday that stated that biological men cannot compete in women’s sports in NAIA-sponsored college sports. 

The NAIA includes 249 schools across the U.S. and Canada, most of which are small, private colleges. 

Catholic colleges such as Benedictine College in Kansas, Ave Maria University in Florida, Loyola University in New Orleans, and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana are members of the league. Texas A&M University-San Antonio is also a member. 

The decision, in a 20-0 vote, followed a December survey that found widespread support for the proposed rule among the association’s members. Of the 68 schools that responded to the survey, 58 were in favor of the policy change, according to a CBS report.

“We believed our first responsibility was to create fairness and competition in the NAIA,” NAIA president Jim Carr told CBS Sports. “We also think it aligns with the reasons Title IX was created.” 

The new policy requires that students who participate in NAIA-sponsored women’s sports must be biologically female and not under the influence of any masculinizing hormone therapy. 

Female athletes who take masculinizing hormones cannot compete in NAIA-sponsored women’s sports but may participate in internal activities such as workouts, practices, and teams, according to the individual college’s discretion, the policy stated.

The NAIA’s policy does not specify sex for NAIA-sponsored male sports, meaning that women taking masculinizing hormones may participate in male sports if they wish.

The policy will go into effect Aug. 1.

The decision follows recent controversy over University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male, winning an NCAA Division I Championship. 

Riley Gaines, who competed against Thomas, has been outspoken about her opposition to allowing male athletes to compete in women’s sports. 

Gaines and more than a dozen other female athletes filed a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) in March. The suit alleged that allowing men to compete in women’s competitions denies women protections promised under Title IX and that the decision “subject[ed] women to a loss of their constitutional right to bodily privacy.”

“Title IX was enacted by Congress to increase women’s opportunities; therefore, no policy which authorizes males to take the place of women on women’s college sports teams or in women’s college sports locker rooms is permissible under Title IX,” the complaint read.

Gaines applauded the NAIA’s move in a post on X, noting that the NAIA “becomes the first national college governing body to mandate athletes compete with their sex.”

A recent Vatican document released Monday affirmed the Catholic Church’s teaching on human dignity and addressed a variety of modern issues including transgenderism.

The Vatican declaration noted that “all attempts to obscure reference to the ineliminable sexual difference between man and woman are to be rejected” while also condemning any violence or aggression toward individuals based on sexual orientation.

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