Local universities react to executive order signaling change for high school, college athletes

The University of Dayton athletic department reacted in support of President Biden’s executive order which will allow transgender athletes to participate along the gender that they identify with. Photo courtesy of Flyer News.

Will Riesenberg
Contributing Writer

Adjustments in policy are inevitable with a change in presidency, yet this year’s transfer of power is unique, as it has the potential to cause quite a large effect on the sports world.

On Jan. 20, President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he signed an executive order stating that “children should be able to learn without worrying whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”

Essentially, the document orders that all public agencies must not discriminate against gender identity, which will allow transgender athletes to participate along the gender that they identify with. 

This order comes with an abundance of controversy, as it was signed less than two months after the Ohio House Primary & Secondary Education Committee, along with 16 other states, proposed bills that would restrict transgender athletes in high school and college to participating only with the sex that was recorded at their birth.

Bills of this kind have been proposed in order to protect the fairness in women’s sports, as transgender women are often thought of to have many physical advantages over those who were recorded as female at birth – such as height, weight, speed, and strength.

While some argue that this is unfair, others suggest the unfairness of the sport is not the largest factor in whether or not a transgender athlete can play accompanied by the gender they identify with.

Many healthcare groups and human rights advocates believe these athletes should compete with the gender they identify with, as restrictions contain the potential to affect the physical and emotional well-being of a growing number of individuals.

With Biden’s order instructing every agency to enforce the new rule within 100 days, university athletic departments around the country are more prepared than ever for the change.

Numerous universities surrounding the Dayton area have released strategies discussing their plan for adapting to the new rule, including the University of Dayton Athletic Department’s Vision of Diversity.

“The University of Dayton is committed to embracing diversity as a manifestation of God’s creation, to honoring the dignity that all persons share, and to promoting the respect to which all are entitled,” the university said in the statement. 

“Widening the circle of the University of Dayton community to invite, affirm, reflect upon, and educate for constructive collaboration across human difference is an expression of the University’s unwavering dedication to Catholic and Marianist traditions of education, intellectual life, and community building”.

In addition to Dayton, Miami University’s athletic department has commented on the recent event.

“[The athletic department] aspires to lead the university with diverse backgrounds, inclusive insights, varied viewpoints and welcoming behavior [while welcoming] champions of all races, religions, genders, orientations, and ethnicities”.  

Ohio State University, the college with the largest enrollment in the state, also released a statement against discrimination.

“[We are] committed to building and maintaining a community to reflect human diversity and to improve opportunities for all. The university is committed to equal opportunity, affirmative action, and eliminating discrimination and harassment”.

Additionally, the university has continued to promote their sports psychology program as a safe space for their athletes to discuss personal issues that include gender identity. Their sports psychology and wellness services are offered to “enhance [their athlete’s] mental health and performance”.

As the 100 day mark since the order was signed draws closer, it is likely that universities will comment further on this topic in the near future in order to continue the push of diversity in the college sports world.

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