Chelsea Mitchell of Canton, Connecticut, deserves equal opportunities to compete and win in sports.
Opening more opportunities in education and athletics for girls like Chelsea was the very reason Congress passed a federal law known as Title IX back in 1972.
A gifted athlete and hard worker, Chelsea relishes the opportunities given to her. She competes in both track and soccer and has been recognized for her excellence in both. But running is Chelsea’s true passion. As a high school sophomore, she won three Connecticut Class S state championships in outdoor track and field.
“It was the best day of my life,” recalls the high school senior. But that moment would become bittersweet. Because, despite her natural talent, Chelsea knew that she would probably never win another state championship again. But this wasn’t because Chelsea was any less dedicated to her sport. No, Chelsea knew she could never win another championship because she would be competing against athletes with an unfair advantage.
Since 2017, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference has allowed male athletes who identify as girls to compete in women’s sports. And after the 2018 season, one male athlete transferred schools, moving into Chelsea’s competition class.
Chelsea was devastated when her mother told her the news. “It felt like all I had worked for had been ripped away from me. I knew that I would never have the feeling [of being a state champion] again.”
Now Chelsea faced a grueling prospect that would be difficult for many adults to handle — competing in races that she knew she couldn’t win. And yet, she didn’t give up. “She never quit trying or working hard,” said her mother, Christy Mitchell.
But Chelsea can’t overcome this radical unfairness. Because of the presence of male athletes, she has been robbed of four state titles and two All-New-England awards. While disturbing, it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that male athletes dominate when competing in women’s sports.
Basic biology and common sense tell us that men have a physical advantage over women in athletics. Male athletes can run faster, jump higher, and endure more than female athletes. But this is not because male athletes train harder — it’s because men have a different physiological make-up. When the law ignores this fact, women suffer.
Dr. Gregory A. Brown, a professor of sports physiology at the University of Nebraska, found that in 2017 alone, well over 5,000 males ran a 400-meter dash faster than the personal bests of top performing female Olympic champions. If Olympians like Allyson Felix are outrun by so many men, how are high-school athletes like Chelsea supposed to stand a chance?
It’s impossible. The physical differences between men and women are the reason why women’s sports exist in the first place. The CIAC’s policy of allowing male athletes to compete against girls is unfair and in violation of Title IX. That’s why Chelsea along with two other high-school athletes in Connecticut, Selina Soule and Alanna Smith, filed a lawsuit against the CIAC through their attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom.
Title IX gave women opportunities in athletics that were previously unavailable to them. But if policies like the CIAC’s go unchallenged, these opportunities will be taken away from girls like Chelsea once again.
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