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Small college association bans transgender athletes from women’s sports

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the governing body for primarily small colleges, approved a policy on Monday that will ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.

The NAIA’s Council of Presidents approved the policy in a 20-0 vote on Monday, the organization confirmed to The Hill.

The decision stands in contrast to how the National Collegiate Athletic Association has handled the issue. The NCAA, which covers most larger colleges and universities, does not have a ban on participation by transgender people. In 2022, it did adopt a sport-by-sport policy to handle issues related to participation.

“We are unwavering in our support of fair competition for our student-athletes,” NAIA President & CEO Jim Carr said in a statement. “It is crucial that NAIA member institutions, conferences, and student-athletes participate in an environment that is equitable and respectful. With input from our member institutions and the Transgender Task Force, the NAIA’s Council of Presidents has confirmed our path forward.”

Per the policy, all athletes can participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports but only those whose biological sex assigned at birth is female and have not started hormone therapy can take part in women’s sports.

Those who have already begun hormone therapy will be required to notify the NAIA national office, but can still participate in workouts, practices and team activities.

The new policy will go into effect on August 1 and will apply to all sports except for cheer and dance, which are under separate categories in the NAIA, the organization noted.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, ripped the policy, arguing it “undermines basic decency deserved by all student-athletes.”

“Today, the NAIA decided to bar an entire category of people from competition simply because of a right-wing outrage campaign that purposefully misrepresents and distorts the realities of transgender athletes while doing nothing to support women’s sports,” said Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

“The benefits of sports to the mind, body, and spirit are well known. Every student, including transgender student athletes, deserve the opportunity to be a part of a team and to learn about sportsmanship, self-discipline, perseverance and more,” Robinson.

At least 24 states since 2020 have enacted laws that categorically ban transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams that match their gender identity.

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