Governor Chris Sununu joined 24 of his fellow Republican governors opposing a new Biden administration rule that would force schools and colleges to allow men to compete in women’s sports.

The Biden Department of Education is threatening to withhold federal dollars from local schools that refuse to adopt the view that identity, and not biology, determine a person’s sex for the purposes of athletic competition. The new rule would forbid a blanket ban on biological males competing in women’s swim meets, basketball games, and other sports.

​​“If [the rule is] not withdrawn, we are gravely concerned about the impact that the Department’s wholesale reinvention of Title IX’s terms would have on states’ ability to enforce their laws and policies as written,” the governors wrote to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona Friday.

“Indeed, under threat of denying essential school funding, the Department’s proposed regulation would attempt to coerce compliance with an uncertain, fluid, and completely subjective standard that is based on a highly politicized gender ideology,” they added. “Most troubling, the proposed regulation would turn the purpose of Title IX on its head and threaten the many achievements of women in athletics.”

Sununu wading into the fight over women’s sports is an unusual move for the governor, who has largely stayed out of culture war battles and has been reluctant to address this issue in the past. Republican women tell NHJournal they are glad Sununu has stepped up.

“I am thankful for Governor Sununu’s leadership on this crucial issue,” said Executive Councilor Janet Stevens (R-Rye). “It really is common sense: only women should play in women’s sports. The Biden administration and our federal delegation are attempting to dismantle decades of progress in women’s rights, to appease the extremists in their party.

“Joe Biden and Chris Pappas need to wake up — this woke nonsense doesn’t fly in New Hampshire,” Stevens said.

“Democrats have shown that on the issue of protecting women’s sports, biological women do not fit their narrative,” said Elizabeth Girard, head of the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women. “While Democrats have chosen to ignore female athletes, Republicans have made it clear we are the party of women. Thank you, Gov. Chris Sununu and the 24 other governors, for your dedication to protecting the rights of female athletes to compete fairly in women’s sports.”

New Hampshire Democrats don’t agree. They have repeatedly and overwhelmingly voted against protections for women athletes who don’t want to compete with biological males. Democratic state legislators like House Democratic Leader Rep. Matt Wilhelm (D-Manchester) and Rep. Mel Myler (D-Hopkinton), the top Democrat on the Education Committee, have voted to allow males to compete in women’s sporting contests like swim meets.

And last month, both of New Hampshire’s U.S. representatives voted against the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, which passed the House in a party-line 219-203 vote.

Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas declined to answer questions about their vote against the bill.

Like many opponents of the new Biden administration rule, state Senate Majority Leader Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry) invokes Title IX, the federal rules put in place in 1975 to protect equal athletic opportunities for women and girls.

“There’s a long history of women fighting to be able to compete in sports,” Carson said. “Women had to fight to get Title IX passed, and I’m glad to see these governors standing up to protect female athletes and their ability to compete fairly.”

The letter from the governors’ echoed that sentiment.

“Defending the many hard-fought, athletic achievements over the last half-century is far more than a matter of safety for female athletes,” Sununu and the other governors’ wrote. “It also protects essential fairness. As courts (and common sense) have long recognized, ‘[D]ue to average physiological differences, males would displace females to a substantial extent if they were allowed to compete’ against each other.”