Connecticut’s statewide policy allowing transgender girls to compete on high school girls athletics teams violates the civil rights of student-athletes assigned female at birth, the U.S. Education Department decided. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the 45-page letter giving the decision on Thursday.
Three female track athletes filed a federal discrimination complaint in June 2019 alleging the policy was unfair and cost them top finishes at the state meet. The department’s decision is that it is in violation of Title IX and as such, the state’s schools could lose federal funding for it.
The case is still the subject of a federal lawsuit.
US education: Transgender policy violates Title IX
The school districts were reportedly notified of the pending decision in February to work out an agreement between sides. The ruling on the policy, via the Associated Press:
It 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,” according to the letter, which is dated May 15.
The high school runners filed the complaint with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian law firm. The plaintiffs argued that two transgender athletes they competed against pushed them out of medaling in front of scouts. They claimed the progress made when Title IX was enacted were “reversed” by allowing transgender athletes to compete.
Since the criminal complaint, one of the plaintiffs won two indoor track titles over one of the transgender sprinters.
State organization stands behind policy
Connecticut is one of 18 states that allow transgender athletes to compete under the gender they identify with without restrictions. Other states are trying to push through the opposite legislation.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the organization running high school athletics in the state, stood behind its policy in a statement to the Associated Press.
“Connecticut law is clear and students who identify as female are to be recognized as female for all purposes — including high school sports. To do otherwise would not only be discriminatory but would deprive high school students of the meaningful opportunity to participate in educational activities, including inter-scholastic sports, based on sex-stereotyping and prejudice sought to be prevented by Title IX and Connecticut state law.”
The plaintiffs wanted to block the transgender athletes’ participation in spring track meets, which were later canceled due to COVID-19, and cancel out all the records they set.
How does it impact school funding?
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded educational institutions or activities. It is meant to guarantee equal education opportunities, including in athletics. If violated, that federal funding can be rescinded though that can be rare in terms of sports violations.
The U.S. Education Department said in the letter that it may withhold funding from the schools and districts in the complaint if they continue the practice. Via the Associated Press:
The office said it will “either initiate administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue and defer financial assistance” to the conference and those districts or refer the cases to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The American Civil Liberties Union lawyers representing the transgender athletes have argued that the students are undergoing hormone treatments that put them on the same competition level as high school girls.
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