DOJ sides with students suing Conn. public schools for allowing trans athletes in women's sports

Selina Soule | Alliance Defending Freedom

The U.S. Department of Justice has sided with three female high school athletes suing Connecticut public schools over allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports.

The DOJ filed a statement of interest brief on Tuesday in the case of Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, which is in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

The case involves Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell suing the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference over a policy allowing males who identify as females to compete in women’s sports.

In their statement of interest, the DOJ took issue with the CIAC claiming that their transgender policy is justified by federal Title IX law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

“Title IX and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination solely ‘on the basis of sex,’ not on the basis of transgender status, and therefore neither require nor authorize CIAC’s transgender policy,” stated the brief.

“To the contrary, CIAC’s construction of Title IX as requiring the participation of students on athletic teams that reflect their gender identity would turn the statute on its head.”

The DOJ went on to argue that with “CIAC’s interpretation of Title IX, however, schools may not account for the real physiological differences between men and women.”

“Instead, schools must have certain biological males—namely, those who publicly identify as female—compete against biological females,” the brief continued.

“In so doing, CIAC deprives those women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”

Christiana Holcomb of Alliance Defending Freedom, which is helping to represent the students, reiterated the DOJ’s stance in a statement Wednesday.

“Girls shouldn’t be reduced to spectators in their own sports. Allowing males to compete in the female category isn’t fair and destroys girls’ athletic opportunities,” Holcomb argued.

In February, the female student athletes and their families filed suit against CIAC for a policy enacted in 2013 that allowed athletes to participate in women’s sports if they identify as female.

A focal point of the lawsuit were transgender athletes Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, who have won a combined 15 titles in different state events.

Yearwood and Miller are both biologically male, yet they self-identify as female and thus have been allowed to participate in women’s sports.

The American Civil Liberties Union has also involved itself in the case, intervening in the case on behalf of Yearwood and Miller and in support of the CIAC policy.

Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice at the ACLU's LGBT & HIV Project, told the Associated Press that the ACLU considers the lawsuit discriminatory against transgender athletes.

“Our clients are two high school seniors who are just trying to enjoy their final track season of high school and who now have to contend with the federal government arguing against their right to equal educational opportunities,” stated Strangio.

“History will look back on these anti-trans attacks with deep regret and shame. In the meantime we will continue to fight for the rights of all girls to participate in the sports they love."  

Holcomb contended, “Males will always have inherent physical advantages over comparably talented and trained girls — that’s the reason we have girls’ sports in the first place.”

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