‘If We Feel The Civil Rights Are Being Violated, We Will Act’: U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona On Transgender Athletes In Women’s Sports

On June 1, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis became the latest governor to protect the rights of girls and women competing in athletics, by signing a bill into law — the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” — which prohibits biological men from competing against female athletes. 

Florida became the eighth state to protect female athletes from being forced to compete against biological men. 

“We believe in the state of Florida, of protecting the fairness and the integrity of women’s athletics,” DeSantis said. “And I can tell you this in Florida, you know, girls are going to play girl’s sports and boys are going play boy’s sports, that’s what we’re doing. We’re going to make sure that that’s the reality. So the bill that we’re doing today will ensure fairness for women athletes for years to come in the state of Florida. It says that athletic teams or sports that are designated for females are open to females. And we’re going to go based off biology.”

The fight over fairness in sports is just beginning, and the U.S. Secretary of Education has now thrown his hat into the ring. 

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told ESPN that the Biden administration will step in from the federal level to protect students’ civil rights if need be and that transgender girls have a “right to compete.” 

“I do believe in local control. I do believe in state control, but we do have a responsibility to protect the civil rights of students. And if we feel the civil rights are being violated, we will act,” Cardona said. “Our LGBTQ students have endured more harassment than most other groups. It’s critically important that we stand with them and give them opportunities to engage in what every other child can engage in without harassment.”

Cardona replaced former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in January and has a completely different outlook on transgender athletes’ participation in sports. 

“It’s their right as a student to participate in these activities. And we know sports does more than just put ribbons on the first-, second- and third-place winner,” Cardona continued. “We know that it provides opportunities for students to become a part of a team, to learn a lot about themselves, to set goals and reach them, and to challenge themselves. Athletics provides that in our K-12 systems and in our colleges, and all students deserve an opportunity to engage in that.”