CIAC Responds: We Comply With State Laws Barring Schools From Discriminating Against Transgender Athletes

This article was published on: 05/28/20 4:36 PM by Mike Minarsky

Last year, several track athletes in Connecticut filed a complaint that two transgender runners who were identified as male had an unfair physical advantage. First reported by the Associated Press who obtained a ruling saying that allowing transgender athletes to participate in the gender in which they identify violates the rights of female athletes, as ruled by the U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights.

The CIAC which oversees school sports in Connecticut has said in the past that they comply with state laws barring schools from discriminating against transgender athletes. The CIAC could lose financial assistance. The CIAC has responded, and that response, in full, is listed below.

“After an administrative investigation, the United States Office for Civil Rights has taken the position that any participation by any transgender female athlete in girls’ high school track and field deprives cis-gender girls of a meaningful opportunity to participate in violation of Title IX. These same issues are the subject of a federal court lawsuit brought by the same plaintiffs, Soule et al v. Connecticut Association of Schools, Inc. et al., Docket Number 3:20-CV-0021-RNC. which is in a very early stage. In 2013, The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) adopted its inclusive sports participation policy for transgender athletes in accordance with federal and state guidance and consistent with its commitment to providing opportunities for sports participation to all student athletes in Connecticut. Multiple federal courts and government agencies, such as the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, have acknowledged that the term “sex” in Title IX is ambiguous and that historical usage of the term “sex” has not kept pace with contemporary science, advances in medical knowledge, and societal norms. In their February 22, 2017 Dear Colleague Letter, the United States Department of Justice and Department of Education withdrew earlier guidance documents that aligned with the CIAC’s policy, stating in part that such guidance had not be subject to any formal public process and further explaining that “there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.” In accordance with this guidance, CIAC reexamined its sports participation policy in light of Connecticut law. As explained in the Motion to Intervene filed by the Connecticut Commission of Human Right and Opportunities, Connecticut law is clear and students who identify as female are to be recognized as female for all purposes–including high school sports. 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.”

The schools with the complaints listed are Glastonbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, Cromwell, Canton, and Danbury.

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