Apr 8, 2024 - Business

NAIA colleges ban transgender athletes from women's sports

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas, in 2020.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas, in 2020. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A national athletics association for smaller private colleges and universities around the U.S. adopted a new policy on Monday that bans transgender athletes from women's sports.

Why it matters: The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is believed to be the first national collegiate athletic governing body adopt such a policy.

  • NAIA did so despite having no knowledge of transgender athletes competing in its postseasons to this point, according to CBS Sports.
  • However, all athletes may participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports, regardless of what gender they were assigned at birth.

Catch up quickly: NAIA oversees around 83,000 student athletes at around 250 schools that are not apart of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA).

  • Its adoption of the policy only applies to NAIA competitions. NCAA rules allow transgender athletes to compete if they adhere to the guidelines of their international sport governing bodies.

Athletes governed by the organization will only be allowed to compete in women's sport if they were assigned female at birth, according to the new policy adopted by the NAIA's council of presidents with a 20-0 vote.

  • Such athletes can participate in team workouts, practices and other activities, but not in interscholastic competitions.

What they're saying: "We are unwavering in our support of fair competition for our student-athletes," Jim Carr, NAIA's president, said in a statement on Monday about the policy change.

Zoom out: In recent years, dozens of conservative state legislatures around the country have passed laws banning transgender students from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.

The big picture: Last month, 16 former and current student athletes sued the NCAA over its policies on transgender athletes. They claimed it violated their Title IX rights by allowing transgender woman Lia Thomas to compete at the national championships in 2022.

  • That year, Thomas became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I title after finishing first in the women's 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:33.24.
  • Emma Weyant, who placed second, had a time of 4:34.99, while Erica Sullivan finished third at 4:35.92.

Go deeper: Georgia bill would ban trans girls from sports that match gender identity

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