Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell, three high school track team members, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and a lawsuit against Connecticut on the grounds that the state violated federal law Title IX when it deprived them of an equal opportunity to compete fairly.
Soule missed out on running in a regional championship because boys pretending to be girls ran in the qualifying race and eliminated her from contention. Mitchell missed winning a championship because two boys came in first and second place.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) claims the policy that allows boys to run track against girls is legal, because Title IX bans discrimination based on “transgender” status.
The Department of Justice issued a statement of interest in the case this week and contends CIAC is not interpreting the law correctly. From the statement (PDF – emphasis added):
Title IX and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination solely “on the basis of sex,” not on the basis of transgender status, and therefore neither require nor authorize CIAC’s transgender policy. To the contrary, CIAC’s construction of Title IX as requiring the participation of students on athletic teams that reflect their gender identity would turn the statute on its head.
Schools realize that purpose primarily by establishing separate athletic teams for men and women and by ensuring that those teams are on equal footing. See 34 C.F.R. § 106.41(b)-(c). Because of the physiological differences between men and women, the existence of women’s sports teams permits women to participate more fully in athletics than they otherwise could.
“Girls shouldn’t be reduced to spectators in their own sports,” Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer Christiana Holcomb said. “Allowing males to compete in the female category isn’t fair and destroys girls’ athletic opportunities. Males will always have inherent physical advantages over comparably talented and trained girls—that’s the reason we have girls’ sports in the first place. And a male’s belief about his gender doesn’t eliminate those advantages.”
Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom