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 Michael Goodin / The Daily Signal

HARTFORD, Connecticut, May 29, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has determined that Connecticut’s policy allowing boys who identify as girls to compete in girl’s sports violates the civil rights of female athletes.  

The OCR’s decision was delivered in a 45-page letter of impending enforcement action following a months-long investigation into the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) and several Connecticut school districts. Among the findings announced in the May 15 letter: 

OCR determined that the CIAC, by permitting the participation of certain male student-athletes in girl’s interscholastic track in the state of Connecticut … 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.   

Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) who represent three Connecticut female high-school track competitors had requested the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigation after the CIAC decided to allow male students who identify as female to compete on the girls’ athletic teams. 

“Since 2017, males consistently deprived ADF clients Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell and others of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels,” said the ADF statement.  

‘Finally heading in the right direction’

“Girls shouldn’t be reduced to spectators in their own sports,” declared ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “We’re encouraged that the Department of Education has officially clarified that allowing males to compete in the female category isn’t fair, destroys girls’ athletic opportunities, and clearly violates federal law.” 

“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,” continued Holcomb. “In light of the department’s letter, we’re asking Connecticut schools and the CIAC to update their problematic policies and comply with federal law.”

“I am extremely happy and relieved to learn that OCR found the CIAC and the school districts violated Title IX,” said Connecticut student Chelsea Mitchell, one of the athletes represented by ADF. “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. Finally, the government has recognized that women deserve the right to compete for victory, and nothing less.”

The OCR letter gave the CIAC and six Connecticut public high schools a June 4, 2020 deadline to bring their policies into alignment with Title IX. The Department of Justice has already filed a brief supporting the position of ADF’s clients in the separate litigation challenging the same policy.

If the CIAC does not revert from its policy established in 2013 which permits boys who identify as girls to compete in girl’s sporting events in violation of Title IX original, immutable meaning, the state risks losing federal funding.   

ACLU promises a fight

“All that today’s finding represents is yet another attack from the Trump administration on transgender students,” Chase Strangio, who leads “transgender justice” initiatives for the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project, told the Associated Press. 

“Trans students belong in our schools, including on sports teams, and we aren’t backing down from this fight,” asserted Strangio. 

The CAIC is standing by its policy, adhering to the Obama Adminstration’s guidance which viewed the term “sex” in Title IX as “ambiguous.” 

“Connecticut law is clear and students who identify as female are to be recognized as female for all purposes–including high school sports,” said a CAIC statement issued yesterday.

“To do otherwise would not only be discriminatory but would deprive high school students of the meaningful opportunity to participate in educational activities, including inter-scholastic sports, based on sex-stereotyping and prejudice sought to be prevented by Title IX  and Connecticut state law.”  

Decision has legal implications beyond Connecticut

The federal decision carries implications beyond Connecticut, according to ADF attorney Roger Brooks.

“Around the nation, districts are going to want to be reading this, because it does have legal implications,” Brooks told the AP.. “It is a first decision from the agency charged with enforcing Title IX addressing the question of whether males on the playing field or on the track are depriving girls of opportunities consistent with Title IX.”

Currently, 18 states and Washington, D.C. allow males say they are female to compete in girls’ high school sporting events. Ten other states are judged by to have discriminatory policies in place.  

Idaho, the first state to outright ban boys from participating in girls’ sports, has had its “Fairness in Women’s Sports” law challenged by ACLU Idaho and Legal Voice, a feminist group. 

“Boys are boys and girls are girls,” State Senator Lee Heider said after the bill passed in the Senate in March. “No doctor, no judge, no Department of Health and Welfare is going to change that reality.”