WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed a Statement of Interest in a case involving three female high school track athletes who sued the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) and other entities over a policy allowing students to compete in sports in accordance with their stated “gender identity.”
“Title IX and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination solely ‘on the basis of sex,’ not on the basis of transgender status, and therefore neither require nor authorize CIAC’s transgender policy,” the document, filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, states. “To the contrary, CIAC’s construction of Title IX as requiring the participation of students on athletic teams that reflect their gender identity would turn the statute on its head.”
The DoJ noted that one of the purposes of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was to ensure that girls could have “equal athletic opportunity,” and schools have long separated boys and girls teams to provide fairness in sports due to their physiological differences.
However, in not accounting for these differences via its new policy allowing biological males who identify as female to compete on girls’ teams, the “CIAC deprives those women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”
As previously reported, following the Athletic Conference’s decision to provide “transgender student athletes with equal opportunities to participate in CIAC athletic programs consistent with their gender identity,” two biological boys, who go by the names Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, were permitted to join the girls track team at their school and compete as females — moving on to the New England regionals.
One of the female competitors, Selina Soule, who attends Bloomfield High School, wasn’t able to qualify for the 55-meter race at the regionals because Yearwood and Miller took two of the top spots. She came in eighth.
“When I’m at the start of the race, when I’m lining up and getting into my blocks, everyone already knows the outcome. Those two athletes are going to come up one and two, and everyone knows it,” she told the Daily Signal.
“From third on, it’s a little different, we’re actually fighting for those spots [among the girls], but in those meets, there’s no way that one of us biological girls will be able to outrun those transgender athletes.”
She said that her entire track team has been affected. It lost out in the state open championship because the team with the transgender runner naturally came out on top.
Soule and her mother, along with fellow runners Chelsea Mitchell and Alanna Smith and their parents, lodged a complaint last June with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, and the Department agreed to investigate whether the girls were being denied equal opportunity in athletics due to transgender participation.
Last month, filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the policy, specifically citing that Yearwood and Miller will deprive them of their achievements by making it impossible for them to win.
“In fact, Andraya Yearwood is currently ranked 7th in the entire nation in the high school girls’ 55m dash,” the legal challenge states. “[I]f Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood are permitted to compete in the girls’ 55m event, it is likely that one or both of these males will deprive Chelsea and Selina of a victory position she has earned in the State Open Championship.”
“As Chelsea and Selina are seniors, the Spring 2020 track season is their final opportunity to compete in high school track and field events, to improve their scores, to win championships, to receive public recognition of their achievements, and to experience the thrill of victory,” the complaint outlines.
Smith, a sophomore, “has already been pushed down from an earned second place victory in a 2019 State Championship when male athlete Terry Miller took first place,” it states.
In submitting its statement of interest on Tuesday, the Department of Justice argued that Congress defined “sex” as biological when it passed Title IX, and that its sponsor (then-Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind.) even noted that the law would ‘permit differential treatment by sex … in sport facilities.'”
“Accordingly, those regulations provide that a recipient of federal funds does not violate Title IX when it ‘operate[s] or sponsor[s] separate teams for members of each sex where selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or the activity involved is a contact sport,'” it noted. “And the regulations expressly require ‘[a] recipient which operates or sponsors interscholastic, intercollegiate, club or intramural athletics [to] provide equal opportunity for members of both sexes.'”
“CIAC nevertheless has decided to force biological girls to compete against biological boys who publicly identify with the female gender and want to compete on sex-specific athletic teams,” the DoJ laments. “Accordingly, CIAC’s transgender athletic policy is in tension with the core purpose of Title IX and its implementing regulations.”
Read the document in full here, as submitted by Attorney General Bill Barr, attorney Matthew Donnelly and others.
The religious liberties group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing the girls in court, concurred with DoJ’s Statement of Interest.
“Girls shouldn’t be reduced to spectators in their own sports. Allowing males to compete in the female category isn’t fair and destroys girls’ athletic opportunities,” remarked attorney Christiana Holcomb in a statement. “Males will always have inherent physical advantages over comparably talented and trained girls — that’s the reason we have girls’ sports in the first place. And a male’s belief about his gender doesn’t eliminate those advantages.”