Education Dept. opens investigation into policy allowing transgender athletes to compete against girls

Selina Soule
Selina Soule | Alliance Defending Freedom

The Department of Education says it will investigate the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's policy of allowing boys who identify as transgender to compete in girls' high school sports. 

In response to a complaint filed by the nonprofit legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of three families, the department decided on Wednesday to grant a request for the Office of Civil Rights to investigate claims of discrimination resulting from the CIAC transgender participation policy.

In the complaint filed in June, ADF argued that the CIAC policy of allowing biological males to compete in girls' athletic events violates Title IX civil rights law, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex in public schools.

Earlier this year, 16-year-old track athlete Selina Soule missed the cut to qualify for New England regionals, an event attended by college scouts, because two boys who identify as transgender finished first and second in a qualifying event. 

The families' complaint alleges that after the CIAC adopted its policy of allowing biological males to compete with girls, which was sometime before 2017, Soule and two other female athletes have been deprived of honors and opportunities to compete at higher levels. 

The families said they tried to raise their concerns with officials from the CIAC and the school district. But officials refused to acknowledge that any discrimination had taken place, the families said. 

notice this week from OCR states that the agency will investigate whether the CIAC denied equal athletic benefits and opportunities to girls through its Transgender Participation Policy. 

Additionally, the OCR will investigate whether the CIAC and the Glastonbury Board of Education retaliated against the students for their advocacy. 

The complaint adds that after Soule's mother spoke out about the issue of gender discrimination, Soule has faced retaliation. 

"[H]er track coach has forced her to perform workouts that are not generally applied for short-distance sprinters, and has forbidden her from competing in any high school track and field event unless she completes them," the complaint alleges. "The coach has never imposed that kind of condition on Selina before. Worse, a coach told Selina and her father that if a college recruiter asked him about Selina, 'he would not be able to give a good report about her.'"

OCR will also investigate whether CIAC's executive director told one of the female students that he would no longer accept communications from her. The department will also look into whether the school district retaliated against one of the students by replacing her on the sprint medley relay team in February. 

"Please note that opening the complaint for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination on the merits of the complaint," the notice from Acting Regional Director Adrienne M. Mundy-Shephard reads. "During the investigation, OCR is a neutral factfinder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from you, the CIAC, the district, and other sources, as appropriate."

The Christian Post reached out to the CIAC and the Glastonbury Board of Education for comment on the federal investigation. A response is pending. 

ADF attorney Christiana Holcomb argued in a statement that forcing female athletes to compete against biological males is unfair and "destroys their athletic opportunities." 

“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," Holcomb contended. "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 CIAC is far from the only entity that allows biologically male athletes to compete in female-only athletic contests.

The International Olympic Committee's guidelines from 2015 allows biologically male trans-identified athletes to compete in women's sports as long as their testosterone is below a certain level.

However, the Journal for Medical Ethics recently published a study that finds IOC's guidelines still afford biological male trans-identified athletes an "intolerable unfairness" over biologically female competitors. 

Earlier this year, USA Powerlifting defended its policies that bar male-to-female trans-identified athletes from competing in women's sports after the organization's policies were deemed discriminatory by far-left Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.  

“Through analysis the impact of maturation in the presence naturally occurring androgens as the level necessary for male development, significant advantages are had, including but not limited to increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue,” USA Powerlifting said in a statement in January.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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