WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has concluded an investigation into the complaint of three female track athletes who contend that they are being denied fairness in women’s sports as the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) implemented a policy allowing students to compete in accordance with their stated “gender identity.”
“OCR determined that the CIAC, by permitting the participation of certain male student-athletes in girls interscolastic track in the state of Connecticut, pursuant to the Revised Transgender Participation Policy, 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,” reads a 45-page letter from Director Timothy Blanchard.
“Accordingly, OCR determined that the CIAC denied athletic benefits and opportunities to female student-athletes competing in girls’ interscolastic track in the state of Connecticut through the revised Transgender Participation Policy, in violation of the regulation implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), at 34 C.F.R. § 106.41(a).”
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, which agreed to investigate.
The girls stated that they did not feel they could win against Yearwood and Miller no matter how hard they trained because of physical advantages and feared that females could one day be “completely eradicated from their own sports” because of an ability to outpace males.
Now, the OCR has sided with the female students, finding that the girls’ were denied equal opportunity in their sport by allowing biological males to compete against them.
“Glastonbury, Canton, and Danbury [school districts] placed female student-athletes in athletic events against male student-athletes, resulting in competitive disadvantages for female student-athletes,” Blanchard wrote.
Meanwhile, males in boys’ track could compete exclusively against other young men.
“Accordingly, the districts’ participation in the athletic events sponsored by the CIAC denied female student-athletes athletic opportunities that were provided to male student-athletes,” he said.
In doing so, the districts and the CIAV violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.
“[T]he CIAC, Glastonbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, Cromwell, Canton, and Danbury treated student-athletes differently based on sex by denying benefits and opportunities to female students that were available to male students,” Blanchard explained.
OCR is requiring the CIAC and the named school districts to bring their policies in line with Title IX or lose funding.
“I am extremely happy and relieved to learn that OCR found the CIAC and the school districts violated Title IX,” student Chelsea Mitchell said in a statement. “It feels like we are finally headed in the right direction and that we will be able to get justice for the countless girls along with myself that have faced discrimination for years.”
“It is liberating to know that my voice, my story, my loss, has been heard; that those championships I lost mean something,” she opined. “Finally, the government has recognized that women deserve the right to compete for victory, and nothing less.”
As previously reported, the three female track athletes have also taken their case to federal court. The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a Statement of Interest in the case in March, arguing 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.’”
“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 lamented. “Accordingly, CIAC’s transgender athletic policy is in tension with the core purpose of Title IX and its implementing regulations.”