Three Connecticut high school track and field athletes have filed a federal discrimination complaint against a statewide policy on transgender athletes, saying it has cost them top finishes in competitions and possibly college scholarships.
The conservative Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom filed the complaint on behalf of the girls Monday with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. It seeks to reverse a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference rule allowing athletes to compete in sports corresponding with their gender identify.
The CIAC says its policy follows a state anti-discrimination law requiring students to be treated in school according to the gender with which they identify.
In its complaint, the ADF claims that allowing transgender girls to compete in girls sports deprives their cisgender (someone who identifies with their birth sex) peers of “opportunities for participation, recruitment, and scholarships” and therefore violates Title IX, which assures equal rights for male and female athletes.
The law firm says that one of the girls filing the discrimination complaint, Glastonbury junior sprinter Selina Soule, fears “retaliation,” in light of her mother’s complaints to CIAC and local high school officials about the transgender policy.
Soule was the only student who identified herself in filing the complaint and appeared on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to discuss the complaint. Her 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. The legislature did not act on the petition.
“We never got anywhere with the CIAC,” Stanescu said Tuesday in an interview with The Courant. “The genders are segregated for a reason. They might as well just say women don’t exist as a category.”
The participation in high school sports by transgender girls Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, both of whom are sprinters and were identified in the complaint, has sparked debate in Connecticut as they continue to compete and excel in state track events. The CIAC follows the state statute, which defines gender as gender identity and not the biological sex of the person. Athletes are required to update school records to have their paperwork reflect the gender with which they identify. The CIAC 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.”
CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said Tuesday that the governing body had not been contacted by the Office for Civil Rights but would cooperate fully with any investigation. Lungarini defended the CIAC’s gender policy, noting that the organization reviewed the language with the Office of Civil Rights in Boston to ensure Title IX compliance and discussed the policy with Connecticut’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.