HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Three high school track athletes and their mothers have filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge Connecticut's policy of allowing transgender girls to compete in girls' sports.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Hartford, said the state's policy robs female athletes of opportunities because of the physical advantages of transgender girls.
Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell claim they were deprived of honors due to transgender girls competing in girl Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference events. The girls say two transgender athletes have been consistently winning track meets.
"CIAC’s policy and its results directly violate the requirements of Title IX, a federal regulation designed to protect equal athletic opportunities for women and girls," the suit said.
Mitchell said she would have won the 2019 state championship in the women’s 55-meter indoor track competition if not for two transgender girls who took first and second place. She said she was denied the gold medal.
Soule and Smith have similar stories. They claim they have been denied medals and/or advancement opportunities.
The CIAC adopted the rule in 2013.
“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing them to compete against boys isn’t fair, shatters their dreams, and destroys their athletic opportunities,” said Christiana Holcomb, Alliance Defending Freedon (ADF) legal counsel. “Having separate boys’ and girls’ sports has always been based on biological differences, not what people believe about their gender, because those differences matter for fair competition. And forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics. Connecticut’s policy violates that law and reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women.”
Bloomfield and Cromwell high schools are also named in the lawsuit because the transgender athletes run for them.
The CIAC said in a statement that it consulted with a several agencies about its policy, including Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Connecticut State Department of Education, the National Federation of State High School Associations, and the Office for Civil Rights.
The CIAC also said it believes that its current policy is appropriate under both state and federal law, and it has been defending that policy in the complaint that was filed previously with the office of civil rights.
True Colors, an LGBTQ advocacy group, also criticized the lawsuit, saying “what they are proposing is legally sanctioned discrimination under this lawsuit.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom previously filed a complaint with the Federal Department of Education, but said on Wednesday that process is taking too long, which is why they filed this lawsuit.