Press Releases

U.S. Department of Education’s Proposed Rule Threatens Religious Schools’ Athletic Programs

May 15, 2023

News Release
For Immediate Release: 5.15.23
Contact: John Manning,
Direct: 972-941-4453

U.S. Department of Education’s Proposed Rule Threatens Religious Schools’ Athletic Programs
The ‘gender identity’ based rule fails to account for fairness and safety in women’s sports and ignores religious beliefs.

Washington, DC—First Liberty Institute submitted a public comment today to the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of Houston Christian University concerning a proposed rule change that disregards traditionally-held religious beliefs. The rule, “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance: Sex-Related Eligibility Criteria for Male and Female Athletic Teams,” disproportionately burdens religious schools who cannot permit males to play with, or compete against females, due to the schools’ religious beliefs and practices.

You can read the letter here.

“This language is an underhanded attempt to eradicate sex-separated teams,” said Keisha Russell, Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “Houston Christian University and other schools cannot meet the requirements of the rule and remain consistent with their religious beliefs. The Department’s proposed rule fails to recognize that sex-separated athletics serve an important educational goal and minimize harm to students.”

Schools like Houston Christian University that hold traditional religious beliefs about sexuality are spiritually motivated to ensure that its female athletes have access to equal and fair opportunities in athletics.

According to the comment submitted today, if finalized, the proposed rule will confuse schools and administrators, disproportionately burden religious schools, and prevent schools from providing equal opportunity in their athletic programs. The comment calls for the Department to rescind the Athletics Rule and leave the current rule unchanged. 


About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact John Manning at or by calling 972-941-4453.

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