3 Conn. Runners File Complaint, Claim Transgender Policy Violates Title IX

The female runners say a policy allowing athletes to compete in sports corresponding with their gender identity puts them at an unfair advantage.

3 Conn. Runners File Complaint, Claim Transgender Policy Violates Title IX

Three Connecticut high school track and field athletes have filed a Title IX complaint claiming a statewide policy on transgender athletes has put them at a competitive disadvantage, harming their chances of receiving college scholarships.

The complaint, filed Monday with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, was submitted by Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the girls, reports The Washington Post. The complaint seeks to reverse a policy by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference that allows athletes to compete in sports corresponding with their gender identity.

The complaint claims allowing transgender girls to compete in girls sports deprives their cisgender peers of “opportunities for participation, recruitment, and scholarships,” therefore violating Title IX. It also states “highly competitive girls” are “systematically being deprived of a fair and equal opportunity to experience the ‘thrill of victory.'”

“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field,” said Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. “Women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides. Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women under this law. We shouldn’t force these young women to be spectators in their own sports.”

The CIAC defended its policy, stating it follows the state’s anti-discrimination law requiring students to be treated in school according to the gender with which they identify and not their biological sex.

“The CIAC is committed to equity in providing opportunities to student-athletes in Connecticut,” executive director Glenn Lungarini said in a written statement. “We take such matters seriously, and we believe that the current CIAC policy is appropriate under both Connecticut law and Title IX.”

Glastonbury High School junior sprinter Selina Soule, the only complainant who has identified herself, told the Associated Press earlier this year that the issue is about fairness on the track after she competed in a 55-meter dash that was won by a transgender athlete.

“We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing,” she said. “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.”

Soule’s mother, Bianca Stanescu, began circulating a petition at track meets last year calling on the state legislature to require athletes to compete in sports based on their gender at birth, unless the athlete has undergone hormone therapy.

“We never got anywhere with the CIAC,” said Stanescu. “The genders are segregated for a reason. They might as well just say women don’t exist as a category.”

Under CIAC’s policy, athletes must update school records to have their paperwork reflect the gender with which they identify. It also mandates that school officials verify the athlete’s gender identification and ensure “that the expression of the student’s gender identity is bona fide and not for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage in competitive athletics.”

The continued success of two transgender girl athletes, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, has sparked statewide debates regarding the fairness of the policy. Both girls have won state titles in various events and have spoken openly about their transgender identity, according to The Hartford Courant.

Yearwood’s father, Rashaan, said, “As a human being — not as Andraya’s father — it’s disappointing that, in 2019, we’re still debating who gets to participate and who doesn’t.” He added, “You would hope we’d gotten to a place in 300-plus years as a country that we’re not debating who should be included, and who should not be. There is no place for exclusion.”

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Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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