A federal court dismisses an athlete’s appeal of Connecticut’s transgender sports policy
Four female athletes who sought Connecticut’s policy allowing males deemed female to compete in girls’ sporting events lost their case in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
A three-judge panel of the federal court affirmed a lower court’s decision Friday to dismiss Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, Inc. , in which plaintiffs argued that the policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference allowed transgender students to compete on girls’ teams in which females were biologically placed. Disenfranchised athletes, denying them accolades and opportunities.
Prosecutors had asked the court for an injunction to change track records and erase the victories of two transgender, biologically male athletes who broke 17 girls’ sprint track records and claimed 15 women’s state titles.
The four athletes, Selina Soleil, Chelsy Mitchell, Alana Smith, and Ashley Nicoletti and their mothers were represented by the Alliance for Defense of Freedom (ADF). ADF attorneys have argued that allowing transgender athletes to compete on girls’ teams results in “girl-born students” materially lower chances of winning, public recognition, athletic scholarships, and future employment than “boy-born students” do. They claimed this was a violation of the Title IX rules against sex discrimination.
A district court earlier dismissed the suit on the grounds that the request to block the policy for transgender inclusion was moot, because the transgender athletes had already graduated, and also that the four female athletes lacked standing to demand an adjustment of records.
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The 2nd Circuit judges wrote: “Like the District Court, we are not satisfied, as to the claim for an injunction to alter records, that the plaintiffs have in fact proven damage and the requirements for damages to stand; both fail on grounds of conjecture.”
The justices added, “Because we have concluded that the CIAC and its member schools did not have sufficient notice that the policy violated Title IX—indeed, they observed to the contrary—Plaintiff’s claims for damages should be dismissed.”
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The Second Circuit’s opinion was also based on the Supreme Court’s decision Bostock v. Clayton, which ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination “on the basis of sex” includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The court noted that the language in Title IX was “identical” to that in Title 7. “Thus, it cannot be said that the policy—which prohibits discrimination on the basis of a student’s transgender status by allowing all students to participate in gender teams consistent with their gender identity—falls within the scope of Title IX’s prohibition,” he wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has represented transgender athletes Andrea Yearwood and Terry Miller and defended CIAC policy in court, celebrated the appeals court’s decision.
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“Today’s ruling is a defining victory for justice, equality, and inclusion,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “The Court rejected the groundless zero-sum arguments put forward opposing this policy and ultimately found that transgender girls have the same right to play as same-sex girls under Title IX. This decisive victory strikes at the heart of political attacks against transgender youth while Help ensure that every young person has the right to play.”
Lawyers for the Freedom Defense Coalition said they are weighing their options after the verdict.
“The Second Circuit got it wrong, and we are evaluating all legal options, including appeal,” Christiana Kiefer, senior council member of the African Democracy Forum, said in a statement. “Our clients – like all female athletes – deserve access to fair competition. Fortunately, an increasing number of states are stepping in to protect women’s athletics.”
Eighteen Republican-controlled states have enacted “fairness in women’s sports” legislation intended to prevent biological males from competing for girls’ and women’s sports teams. Supporters say these laws are necessary to protect female athletes from unfair competition while opponents say they are discriminatory and hateful towards transgender people.
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Polls have shown that Americans are increasingly accepting of transgender people in society, but a majority disagrees with allowing biological males to compete on girls’ and women’s sports teams. A June Washington Post-University of Maryland survey found that 58% of Americans said that “transgender women and girls” should not be “allowed to compete in sports with other women and girls” at the collegiate level, and 55% said the same. for a high school sport.
68% of respondents said that if transgender girls were allowed to compete against biological girls in youth sports, “transgender girls would have a competitive advantage over other girls”.
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar and Courtney O’Brien contributed to this report.
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