Connecticut high schoolers sue to prevent transgender athletes from competing in girls’ sports

Three Connecticut girls who run high school track have filed a federal discrimination complaint seeking to stop transgender athletes from competing in girls sports. The complaint states that the statewide policy on allowing transgender athletes to participate in girls sports violates Title IX, because the policy has caused the girls to miss out on “countless opportunities.” The three families of the girls, Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, and Alanna Smith, are being represented by the nonprofit organization Alliance Defending Freedom. The attorney’s claim that the statewide policy deprives girls from possible scholarship and championship opportunities.

Connecticut is one of 17 states that allows transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions.  The lawsuit was filed against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports in the state. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference says that it’s policy is in line with state and federal regulations, requiring that students be treated in school according to the gender with which they identify. Accordingly, the policy is in accord to Connecticut Public Act No. 11-5, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in all areas and contexts in which laws already prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. An Attorney for the families stated that the policy is “forcing the girls to be spectators in their own sports,” and that the policy is completely contrary to Title IX, a federal law that is designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics.

Image Credit: AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb, File
Transgender athlete Terry Miller, second from the left, wins race in the Connecticut Class S Indoor track meet.

If a judge were to rule against the state policy the transgender sprinters would be stripped the right to run track and compete as the gender with which they identify.  The lawsuit is centered on two transgender sprinters, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who have combined to win 15 girls state indoor and outdoor championship races since 2017.  Miller and Yearwood want to be named as defendants in the federal lawsuit that seeks to block them from participating in girl’s sports. Miller and Yearwood, plan to file a motion to intervene in the case this week.

The transgender athletics debate has been controversial, and it has created a lot of conversation on both sides. In response big businesses such as Nike, Amazon, and American Airlines, have spoken out in support with transgender student athletes. As transgender student-athletes are being targeted across the country, these businesses are standing up against state legislatures who are considering measures to restrict transgender boys and girls from competing in sports according to their gender identity.

In Tennessee these businesses have taken a stand for LGBTQ rights in Tennessee. The signed a letter of support opposes Tennessee’s anti-LGBTq laws. That includes HB 1572/SB 2077, which states that transgender student athletes can only compete against other athletes of the same biological sex. The bill goes on to say that schools found to have violated the bill would be fined up to $10,000. The collective businesses are requesting that lawmakers not pursue any further legislation that targets and excludes the LGBTQ community. The letter states that the Tennessee’s policies signal that the state is not welcoming to everyone, which puts the collective economic success of the companies at risk.

As the Connecticut high school girls fight to keep transgender athletes from participating in girls sports, many others fight for the equal rights of transgender students. As the debate continues, it will be interesting to see what extent additional Fortune 500 companies will participate going forward.

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