Gov. Tate Reeves has violated Mississippians’ constitutional rights by signing SB 2536 into law. In Bostock v. Clayton City, Georgia, the Supreme Court held that the employers in question violated Title VII by choosing to fire LGBTQ employees based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The same sex-based logic applies to Title IX protections in high school and collegiate athletic programs that receive federal funding.
In a post-Bostock world, trans and non-binary athletes must be allowed to participate in the sport that matches their gender identity. Bostock states that “discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex; the first cannot happen without the second.”
Title IX states, “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
However, Senate Bill 2536 unconstitutionally mandates that Mississippi athletics segregate their teams based on “biological sex.” Additionally, SB 2536 runs afoul of NCAA standards which do not “require gender-confirming surgery or legal recognition of a player’s transitioned sex in order for transgender players to participate on a team which matches their identity.”
Our future requires us to continue expanding our nation’s legal protections to vulnerable communities to avoid past mistakes. Some may say that transgender student-athletes possess an unfair advantage or pose a danger in locker-room settings.
However, these claims fall short of scientific research, an understanding of the actual danger transgender people face and the fact that, regardless of their gender, athletes do not possess identical physical builds. Gov. Reeves should not waste his time and our state’s resources passing and defending moot points of law; instead, he should focus on the ongoing water crisis in Jackson.
Julio Cazares is a third year J.D. Candidate at the University of Mississippi School of Law, a staff editor for the Mississippi Sports Law Review, and former legal intern for the Ole Miss Athletics NCAA Office of Compliance.