The State of Tennessee v. United States Department of Education
Description: The Association of Christian Schools International and a female athlete in Arkansas are asking a federal district court to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit that challenges the Biden administration’s reinterpretation of federal law that allows males to compete on female athletic teams. Twenty state attorneys general, led by the state of Tennessee, are challenging a guidance document issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that interprets Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits “discrimination on the basis of sex,” to bar discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Among other things, this would require that schools subject to Title IX allow males who identify as female to participate on female athletic teams and use female-designated showers and locker rooms.
Court allows Christian schools, female athletes to intervene to protect fairness in women's sports
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A federal district court issued an order Wednesday that allows the Association of Christian Schools International and three female athletes in Arkansas to intervene in a lawsuit that challenges the Biden administration’s reinterpretation of federal law that allows males to compete on female athletic teams. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent ACSI and the female athletes.
Twenty state attorneys general, led by the state of Tennessee, are challenging guidance documents issued by the U.S. Department of Education that interpret Title IX, which prohibits “discrimination on the basis of sex,” to bar discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Among other things, these documents would require that schools subject to Title IX allow males who identify as female to participate on female athletic teams and use female-designated showers and locker rooms.
“The Biden administration’s radical push to redefine sex threatens the safety, competitiveness, and equality of female athletes,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs, who argued before the court in favor of the intervention motion that was granted. “We are pleased that the Association of Christian Schools International and the female athletes we represent will have the opportunity to participate in this case. Female athletes deserve to compete on a level playing field. Allowing males to compete in women’s sports undermines fair competition, impairs female athletes’ safety, and threatens female athletes’ opportunities to obtain the many benefits of athletic competition that Title IX was designed to safeguard.”
ACSI’s schools have approximately 500,000 students throughout the country. The ACSI schools compete against public schools that receive federal financial assistance and are required to adhere to the new federal mandate. This places Christian schools and their female athletes at a disadvantage because the public schools they compete against in athletic events would be required by the Biden administration to permit males to compete on female sports teams.
The three female athletes ADF attorneys represent in the case, The State of Tennessee v. United States Department of Education, are Arkansas public school students Anna Scarborough, Cate Ford, and Amelia Ford.
The states of Tennessee, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia filed the lawsuit in August 2021 “to prevent [federal] agencies from usurping authority that properly belongs to Congress, the states, and the people and to eliminate the nationwide confusion and upheaval that the agencies’ recent guidance has inflicted on states and other regulated entities.”
Andrew Fox, one of nearly 4,600 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, is serving as local counsel in the case for ACSI and the female athletes.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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Jonathan Scruggs serves as senior counsel and director of the Center for Conscience Initiatives with Alliance Defending Freedom. In this role, he oversees the litigation team defending the rights of professionals and business owners to live out their faith, as well as the litigation efforts to protect equal opportunities for women in athletics. Since joining ADF in 2006, Scruggs has worked on and prevailed in a variety of cases that protect the right of people to freely express their faith in their business, at school, and in the public square. He earned his J.D. at Harvard Law School and is admitted to practice in the states of Arizona and Tennessee. Scruggs is also admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple federal district and appellate courts.