Twenty-eight congressional Democrats are demanding the Department of Education to reject its recent ruling in favor of female track athletes in Connecticut and allow transgender-identifying boys to compete in girls' sports.
In a Wednesday letter to the agency, the federal legislators — which included 27 House Democrats and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — said that the DOE's order to Connecticut's state athletic association "discriminates against transgender youth" by insisting that girls sports be limited to biological females. The DOE said in May that allowing males to participate in girls' sports constituted a violation of Title IX, the federal statute that pertains to the educational arena.
“The decision of the Department of Education to issue a determination targeting transgender student athletes on the eve of Pride Month is not coincidental. It is a transparent example of their campaign against the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ children,” said Rep. Jahana Hayes from Connecticut, the letter’s lead signer.
The letter from congressional Democrats comes as support for Connecticut residents Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell — three track athletes who have had to compete against males in high school races for the past few years — has continued to grow.
In addition to the DOE's ruling in their favor, the Department of Justice backed the three girls earlier this year in an ongoing lawsuit they filed against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, arguing that the policy of permitting biological males to compete against girls is unfair in light of the numerous physiological advantages males possess over females. The DOE's ruling is not binding on the lawsuit.
Connecticut's policy has “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities, including advancing to the finals in events, higher level competitions, awards, medals, recognition, and the possibility of greater visibility to colleges and other benefits,” the May 15 DOE letter read.
In late March, the state of Idaho became the first in the nation to adopt a law barring males, no matter how they present or identify, from competing in female sports at the high school and university levels. In response, the American Civil Liberties filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing that the bill was invasive and discriminatory toward trans-identifying people.
The "transgender status" of a person was for the first time recognized in Supreme Court precedent on Monday in the Bostock v. Clayton County ruling, a case that centered around the termination of a gay employee. The decision was consolidated with two other cases, one of which involved a trans-identified employee. The high court said in its decision that it is unconstitutional to fire someone from a job based on sexual orientation and transgender status. Doing so is a form of sex discrimination that is banned under Title VII of the 1964 Act, the decision held.
Alliance Defending Freedom warned that the high court's decision "could be especially devastating to the fair treatment of women and girls."