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Female athletes challenge Connecticut policy that abolishes girls-only sports

ADF complaint asks DOE to investigate discrimination, enforce Title IX protections

Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019

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BOSTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing teen track athletes Selina Soule and two other minor girls submitted a complaint Monday to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, asking it to investigate illegal discrimination against the Connecticut athletes. Ever since the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference adopted a policy that allows biological males who claim a female identity to compete in girls’ athletic events, boys have consistently deprived Soule and the other female athletes of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels.

The CIAC policy regularly results in boys out-performing girls in competitive high-school track events across Connecticut. Throughout the 2018-19 track season, males consistently deprived the female athletes who are part of the complaint of dozens of medals, opportunities to compete at a higher level, and the public recognition critical to college recruiting and scholarship opportunities. The complaint notes that CIAC’s policy and its results directly violated the requirements of Title IX, a federal regulation designed to protect equal athletic opportunities for women and girls.

“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing female athletes to compete against boys is grossly unfair and destroys their athletic opportunities,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Title IX was designed to eliminate discrimination against women in education and athletics, and 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 ADF complaint demonstrates that CIAC’s new policy and others like it pose a concrete threat to Title IX gains: “Because of the basic physiological differences and resulting strongly statistically significant differences in athletic capability and performance between boys and girls after puberty, no one could credibly claim that a school satisfies its obligation to provide equal opportunities for girls for participation in athletics by providing, e.g., only co-ed track or wrestling teams and competitions, with sex-blind try-outs and qualification based strictly upon performance.”

The complaint also describes how one mid-level male sophomore athlete failed to advance in boys’ indoor track events during the Winter 2018 season and then abruptly began competing in the girls’ events in the Spring 2018 outdoor track season. The student then “deprived girls of opportunities to advance and participate in state-level competition” in every statewide elimination track event that the student completed. This male now holds more than ten records within the state of Connecticut that once belonged to ten different girls.

“Selina and her fellow female athletes train countless hours to shave mere fractions of seconds off their race times,” Holcomb continued. “They put in that effort in hope of the personal satisfaction of victory, an opportunity to participate in state and regional meets, or a chance at a college scholarship. But girls competing against boys know the outcome before the race even starts: They can’t win. Boys will always have physical advantages over girls; that’s the reason we have women’s sports.”

The complaint asks the Office for Civil Rights to investigate the violations of Title IX and require CIAC to revise its flawed policy. The complaint further asks OCR to require the conference to acknowledge every girl who would have been identified as a champion or who would have qualified for participation in a higher level competition but for the participation of a male in her event.
  • One-page summary: Title IX complaint against Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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