And now Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell have a prominent ally: Attorney General William Barr.
What are the details?
Barr signed a “statement of interest” Tuesday arguing against the policy of the CIAC, the board that oversees the state’s high school athletics, theAssociated Press reported.
The conference lets athletes compete according to their identified genders and bases the policy on state law requiring schools to treat students similarly, the AP said. The CIAC also noted that its policy follows Title IX, the federal law that gives girls equal educational opportunities, including in athletics, the outlet added.
Hold on a sec
The Justice Department filing isn’t down with that.
“Under CIAC’s interpretation of Title IX, however, schools may not account for the real physiological differences between men and women. Instead, schools must have certain biological males — namely, those who publicly identify as female — compete against biological females,” Barr and the other department officials wrote, according to the AP. “In so doing, CIAC deprives those women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”
What did the CIAC have to say?
CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini told the outlet that its transgender policy is based on federal and state guidance and that multiple courts and federal agencies — including the Justice Department — have acknowledged the term “sex” in Title IX is ambiguous.
Lungarini added to the AP that the historical usage of the term “has not kept pace with contemporary science, advances in medical knowledge, and societal norms.”
What did the ACLU have to say?
The American Civil Liberties Union is representing Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood — the biological male sprinters who identify as females and who havedominated girls’ track in Connecticut— and told the outlet it’s troubling that the U.S. government is entering the fray to “make clear that it does not believe girls who are trans enjoy protections under federal law.”
“Our clients are two high school seniors who are just trying to enjoy their final track season of high school and who now have to contend with the federal government arguing against their right to equal educational opportunities,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice at the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, told the AP. “History will look back on these anti-trans attacks with deep regret and shame. In the meantime we will continue to fight for the rights of all girls to participate in the sports they love.”
What’s the background?
Alliance Defending Freedom— which is representing Soule, Mitchell, and Smith — argues that as a result of the CIAC policy “two males were permitted to compete in girls’ athletic competitions beginning in the 2017 track season. Between them, they have taken 15 women’s state championship titles (titles held in 2016 by nine different Connecticut girls) and have taken more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher level competitions from female track athletes in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons alone.”
Mitchell would have won the 2019 state championship in the girls’ 55-meter indoor track competition, “but because two males took first and second place, she was denied the gold medal,” the legal firm said.
Miller won that race with a state record time of 6.95 seconds, theAssociated Press reported. Yearwood took second place with a time of 7.01 seconds, and the third-place sprinter — Mitchell — hit the tape at a distant 7.23 seconds.
Soule finished eighth in the 55-meter sprint — and missed qualifying for the New England regionals by two spots, the outlet said. She told AP had Miller and Yearwood not run, she would’ve been in the regional race to show her abilities to more college coaches.
“We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing,” Soule told the outlet. “I fully support and am happy for these athletes for being true to themselves. They should have the right to express themselves in school, but athletics have always had extra rules to keep the competition fair.”
As for Smith, she won the 400-meter dash at last June’s New England Regional Championships — and no biological males competed in the event, ADF said. But when she lined up for the 200-meter dash, a biological male ran against her and won; Smith came in third.
“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing them to compete against boys isn’t fair, shatters their dreams, and destroys their athletic opportunities,” ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb said. “Having separate boys’ and girls’ sports has always been based on biological differences, not what people believe about their gender, because those differences matter for fair competition. And forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics. Connecticut’s policy violates that law and reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women.”
The spring track season is on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but conference officials have put off a decision on whether to cancel it.
Holcomb added to the AP that because the lawsuit also asks for changes to the state record book, the lawsuit will go forward even if it’s not resolved before the seniors graduate.