HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) – Connecticut policy that allows transgender athletes to compete as girls in high school sports violates civil rights of athletes who have always identified as women, says letter from Civil Rights Office from the United States Department of Education which was obtained Thursday from the Associated Press.
The letter came in response to a complaint filed last year by several cisgender female track athletes who claimed that two transgender runners had an unfair physical advantage.
The office said in the 45-page letter that it could seek to withhold federal funding from politics, allowing athletes to participate according to the gender they identify with. The policy is a violation of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that guarantees equal educational opportunities for women, including athletics, the office said.
He “denied the athletic benefits and opportunities of female student-athletes, including progression to the finals in events, high-level competitions, awards, medals, recognition and the possibility of greater visibility.” for colleges and other benefits, “according to the letter, which is dated May 15.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference said its policy is designed to comply with state law prohibiting schools from discriminating against transgender students. The conference did not immediately return a call for comments on Thursday.
Lawyers for the Freedom Defense Alliance, who represent the girls who filed the complaint, said they would comment later on Thursday.
The decision of the Civil Rights Office names the conference, as well as the school districts for which the transgendered runners and those who filed the complaint competed – Glastonbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, Cromwell, Canton and Danbury.
The office said it would “initiate administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate or refuse to grant or continue and defer financial assistance” to the conference and to these districts or to refer the matter to the United States Department of Justice.
In its letter, the civil rights office said it had notified the CIAC and the school districts of its decision in February, but that subsequent negotiations had not resulted in an agreement on the policy.
“All that today’s discovery represents is yet another Trump administration attack on transgender students,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director of the Trans Justice funding initiative.
“Trans students belong to our schools, including sports teams, and we are not stepping back from this fight,” said Strangio.
The dispute, which is already the subject of a federal lawsuit, focuses on two transgender sprinters, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who have often outperformed their competitors, winning a combined total of 15 state indoor or women’s state championships open air since 2017, according to the trial.
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union for transgender athletes have argued that the two are undergoing hormone therapy that puts them on an equal footing with the girls they compete against.
One of the complainants, Chelsea Mitchell, won two state hall title races against Miller this year.
The complainants sought to prevent Miller and Yearwood, both elders, from participating in the spring track competitions, which were later canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also sought to erase all the records set by transgender athletes.
Connecticut is one of 18 states, along with Washington, D.C., that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com.
Several other states have policies prohibiting the participation of transgender athletes, and Idaho recently became the first to pass legislation prohibiting transgender women from participating in women’s sports.
The ACLU and Legal Voice have filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the law, which violates the United States Constitution because it is discriminatory and an invasion of privacy.