Four athletes seeking a Connecticut policy that would allow men who identify as women to compete in girls’ athletic events have lost their case in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
A three-judge federal court panel upheld a lower court decision Friday that dismissed Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, Inc., in which the plaintiffs argued that the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s policy allowing transgender students to compete on girls’ teams puts female athletes at a biological disadvantage and deprives them of honors and opportunities.
The plaintiffs had asked the court for an injunction to alter track records and expunge the victories of two transgender, biological male athletes who broke 17 women’s track records and claimed 15 state championship titles in women’s track.
The four track athletes, Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith and Ashley Nicoletti, and their mothers were represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF lawyers argued that allowing transgender athletes to compete on girls’ teams results in “born female students” having materially fewer chances for victory, public recognition, athletic scholarships, and future employment than “born male students.” They claimed this was a violation of Title IX rules against sex discrimination.
A district court previously dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the request to block the transgender inclusion policy was moot since the two trans athletes in question had already graduated, and also that the four female athletes lacked standing to demand records to be changed.
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“Like the district court, we are not satisfied, with respect to the claim for an injunction to tamper with records, that Plaintiffs have established the factual injury and relief requirements for standing; both fail on grounds of speculation,” the Second Circuit judges wrote.
“And because we conclude that the CIAC and its member schools did not receive adequate notice that the Policy violates Title IX, in fact they received notice to the contrary, Plaintiff’s damages claims must be dismissed,” they added. judges.
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The Second Circuit’s opinion was also based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock vs. Clayton, which ruled that the prohibition of discrimination “on the basis of sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The court noted that the language of Title IX is “identical” to that of Title VII. “Thus, the Policy, which prohibits discrimination based on a student’s transgender status by allowing all students to participate on gender-specific teams in accordance with their gender identity, ‘cannot be said to fall within the scope of the Title IX proscriptions,'” the judges said. wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented transgender athletes Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller and defended the CIAC policy in court, welcomed the appeals court’s decision.
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“Today’s ruling is a pivotal victory for justice, equality and inclusion,” said Joshua Block, Senior Counsel for the ACLU’s LGBTQ and HIV Project. “The court rejected the unsubstantiated zero-sum arguments advanced by the opposition to this policy, ultimately concluding that transgender girls have as much right to play as cisgender girls under Title IX. This critical victory strikes the heart of political attacks on transgender youth while helping to ensure that all youth have the right to play.
Lawyers for Alliance Defending Freedom said they were weighing their options after the ruling.
“The second circuit erred and we are evaluating all legal options, including appeal,” ADF senior council Christiana Kiefer said in a statement. “Our clients, like all female athletes, deserve access to fair competition. Fortunately, a growing number of states are taking action to protect women’s athletics.”
Eighteen Republican-controlled states have enacted “Fairness in Women’s Sports” legislation that aims to prevent biological men from competing on women’s and women’s sports teams. Supporters say these laws are necessary to protect female athletes from unfair competition, while opponents say they are discriminatory and hateful towards transgender people.
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Polls have shown that Americans are increasingly accepting of transgender people in society, but most disagree with allowing biological men to compete on women’s and women’s sports teams. A Washington Post and University of Maryland poll released in June found that 58% of Americans said “transgender women and girls” should not be “allowed to compete in sports with other women and girls” at the college level, and 55% said the same for high school sports.
A staggering 68% of those surveyed said that if transgender girls were allowed to compete against biological girls in youth sports, “transgender girls would have a competitive advantage over other girls.”
Jessica Chasmar and Cortney O’Brien of Fox News contributed to this report.