In April, USA Today reports, the NCAA Board of Governors adopted a policy requiring cities hosting or bidding on NCAA championships, meetings, or conferences to ”demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event.” Last week a questionnaire on discrimination has been sent to cities named to host NCAA events, a move that followed by a day the National Basketball Association’s decision to move its 2017 All Star game from Charlotte “because of the controversial anti-LGBT law North Carolina enacted in March.”
Of course one of the sources of the controversy is that most of the law’s advocates do not regard it as “anti-LGBT.” Similarly, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s article on the NCAA’s action asserts that the North Carolina law “is widely seen as discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,” but the source for that assertion turns out to be merely another Chronicle of Higher Education article asserting that the law ”is widely seen as discriminating against transgender people.”
Leaving aside the question of whether the North Carolina law is in fact discriminatory, as well as how “widely” it is seen to be discriminatory, an unnoticed irony here is that the NCAA’s own rules and regulations governing the student athletes involved in its events appear to be in violation of the new Title IX “guidance” the Obama administration recently sent to schools and the colleges where those athletes are enrolled.
As I discussed recently in two essays on Minding The Campus (here and here), the central diktat in the May 13 “Dear Colleague” Letter from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education is the requirement that schools and colleges ”treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations. This means that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity.” The “Dear Colleague” letter also states unequivocally that there can be ”no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity.”
The NCAA, however, does have various medical treatment requirements. As I pointed out in the second of my essays linked above,
the NCAA Inclusion of Transgender Student Athletes policy states that “A trans female (MTF) transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team.” MTFs and FTMs, however, are not treated the same, since “A trans male (FTM) student-athlete who is not taking testosterone related to gender transition may participate on a men’s or women’s team.”
As if this were not confusing enough, the NCAA inclusion policy also states that “A trans male (FTM) student-athlete who has received a medical exception for treatment with testosterone … may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s team without changing that team status to a mixed team.” But by contrast, “A trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication … may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.”
Thus the NCAA does what the Obama administration says schools and colleges must not do: “treat transgender students differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity,” and it even makes trans males and trans females jump through different hoops.
Perhaps at its next meeting the unelected NCAA Board of Governors could pause a moment in its passing judgment on whether the city councils, mayors, legislators, and governors in localities where it would like to play its games have provided “an environment” that is “free of discrimination” and consider whether its own rules and regulations pass Obama administration muster. As it stands now, it would appear that colleges complying with those rules would be found to be in violation of Title IX. Indeed, perhaps it may even want to consider allying itself with some of those who are challenging the new Title IX policy.
ADDENDUM [29 July]
I’ve just noticed that Ed Whelan, over on Bench Memos, posted similar thoughts about the NCAA’s political correctness about 45 minutes before my post. I would like to think that great minds work alike, but don’t presume to….