The April 30 Tuesday Opinion essay “Pass the Equality Act, but protect Title IX,” by Doriane Coleman, Martina Navratilova and Sanya Richards-Ross, fundamentally misunderstood the Equality Act and Title IX, the law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. The National Women’s Law Center has spent decades enforcing Title IX to ensure that women and girls have equal opportunities to play sports. We firmly support the Equality Act because it is necessary to combat widespread discrimination. The Equality Act makes clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal sex discrimination, and it closes long-standing gaps in some civil rights law by adding protections from sex discrimination. It does not change Title IX or the landscape that schools face, because courts have already found that Title IX protects against gender-identity discrimination.
The Equality Act would permit single-sex teams, as Title IX already does. And it would not disturb existing rules such as those of the NCAA, which ensure equal opportunities for women and girls and protect transgender athletes from being excluded.
To fulfill the Equality Act’s promise to safeguard all individuals from sex discrimination, we must not treat it as a zero-sum game.