Media Contact

Cassidy Fallik, ACLU of Oklahoma Communications Director, (913) 748-1278,

April 12, 2023

OKLAHOMA CITY — Last week the Biden Administration issued a proposed Title IX rule which makes it clear a categorical ban on trans students participating in sports according to their gender is not permitted. All 20 existing state sports bans, including Oklahoma’s, are categorical bans, and would not be lawful under Title IX once this regulation goes into effect. The proposed rule would permit discrimination against trans students in sports under certain circumstances, but such discrimination must "be substantially related to an important educational objective," and must "minimize harms to students" who are excluded. In response to today’s special meeting of the State Board of Education in which State Superintendent Ryan Walters drafted an agenda to further attack trans youth and engage in political grandstanding, Freedom Oklahoma and the ACLU of Oklahoma issued the following statements:

“The Title IX rule proposal which has offered State Superintendent Ryan Walters a new platform to attack trans people does hardly enough to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. While it’s important to clarify that of course Title IX does not allow blanket discrimination against women and girls, including trans women and girls, as we’ve seen become law in 20 states, including Oklahoma, and counting, it also needs to be made clear that there’s no circumstance where trans discrimination is acceptable. In sports. In schools. In healthcare access. Anywhere. And we plan to encourage folks to join us in saying as much during the public comment period, once the rule is posted to the federal register” said Nicole McAfee, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma. “It’s a shame as Oklahoma continues to have some of the worst educational outcomes, that our State Superintendent and State Board of Education are using taxpayer dollars and asking for additional school capacity to be dedicated to reinforce discrimination against trans students rather than support educators, students, and families as they come to the end of a school year where again we’re seeing astounding numbers of teachers leave the education field or the state. We hope rather than repeating the anti-trans rhetoric central to today’s meeting, instead Oklahoma media will focus on the issues the Walters administration is trying to distract us all from.”

“Having the opportunity to participate in sports results in positive outcomes for students—better grades, greater homework completion, higher educational and occupational aspirations, and improved self-esteem. But currently, the Oklahoma State Legislature and the Superintendent push harmful rules and rhetoric that infringe on our freedoms and our privacy to score political points with their base. Every person and every circumstance is different, and we all deserve the same freedoms,” said Tamya Cox-Touré, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “The US Department of Education’s proposal is a clear rejection of the open and baseless effort at the state and national level to categorically ban all transgender youth from playing sports alongside their peers. Such laws are rooted in little more than discrimination and ignorance, and this proposal from the US Department of Education makes that clear. The Oklahoma State Board of Education must begin considering how to comply with both the rules and the constitutional and federal statutory protections against discrimination of students, given the existing harm of SB 2 from the 2022 legislative session. But this is just a starting point. Oklahoma must ensure all transgender youth can play free of needless barriers or intrusions on their privacy, and we will oppose any undue restrictions on transgender youths’ ability to participate alongside their peers.”