A Christian legal organization is coming to the defense of a female high school athlete who was denied the ability to compete in a girls' regional track championship after two spots were given to boys who identify as transgender.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal group that's known for its extensive record of winning landmark religious liberty cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, is defending high school runner Selina Soule, who placed eighth in a 55-meter dash at the Connecticut indoor track championships earlier this year.
Soule was expecting to be able to compete in the 55-meter race at the New England regionals, an event attended by college scouts looking for athletes to recruit, but she was knocked out of qualifying because the two top spots were given to male athletes who identify as female.
Soule, who would have made the cut as the sixth qualifying runner to compete in the regional event had the boys not been given the top spots, maintains that her civil rights have been violated.
The 16 year old is now filing a federal complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights which enforces Title IX, the federal statute that protects people from sex-based discrimination in the educational arena and its affiliated programs and activities, like school athletics, which receive government funding.
“No one in the state of Connecticut is happy about this, but no one has enough courage to speak up,” Soule told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in an interview that aired Monday night.
“I haven’t been the only one affected by this,” she added. “There have been countless other female athletes in the state of Connecticut, as well as my entire indoor track team. We missed out on winning the state open championship because of the team that the transgender athlete was on.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, which is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is asking the Education Department to investigate and "restore a level playing field" for the Connecticut teenager, according to ADF legal counsel Christiana Holcomb.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference has implemented a protocol “that allows biological males who claim female identity to compete in girls’ athletic events,” according to Soule's complaint. Thus, “boys have consistently deprived [Selina] Soule and the other female athletes of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels,” it reads.
Soule's ordeal captures an ongoing cultural clash regarding "sex" and the nebulous concept of "gender identity" as legal categories. Transgender activists assert that "gender identity" is innate and ought to be included in civil rights law.
Chase Strangio, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that the girls are merely "Attacking two black young [men] who are simply participating in the sport they love just because they are transgender." He said it's "wrong, it is dangerous, and it is distorts Title IX, which is a law that protects all students on the basis of sex," the Hartford Courant reported.
Strangio added, "Efforts to undermine Title IX by claiming it doesn’t apply to a subset of girls will ultimately hurt all students.”
Yet many conservatives and some radical feminists contend it is impossible to do so without erasing sex-based rights, arguing that "gender identity" has no coherent meaning whereas "sex" is rooted in biology, and that the two are mutually exclusive. Women will bear the disproportionate brunt of this policy change, they say.
The Equality Act, which passed the Democratically-controlled House earlier this year, would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act — widely considered one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s most important legacies — adds gender identity as a protected category. At present, the legislation is not expected to be brought up for consideration by the U.S. Senate, where Republicans have a majority.
Beth Stelzer, an amateur powerlifter and the founder of Save Women's Sports, stresses that defending women in athletics ought not be a partisan nor religious issue.
"We commend Selina for her bravery and courage," Stelzer said in an email to The Christian Post on Thursday.
"Save Women's Sports has members from across the country and all walks of life. Our team demonstrates that the issue of men invading women's sports does not need to involve religion or politics, only biological reality," she said.