Commentary

Connecticut Policy Robs Girls of Athletic Opportunities

By Caroline Roberts | August 27, 2020 | 5:07pm EDT
High school athletes at the start of the 100m race during the 2013 NYC Mayor's Cup Outdoor Track and Field Championships. (Photo credit: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
High school athletes at the start of the 100m race during the 2013 NYC Mayor's Cup Outdoor Track and Field Championships. (Photo credit: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

In 1972, Congress passed Title IX, a civil rights law crucial to securing equal educational opportunities for women.

Since its passage, Title IX has paved the way for women all over the country to choose the education they want, pursue careers of their choice, and participate in sports at elite levels. Nearly forty years after Title IX was passed, more than 190,000 women participate in college sports every year. Before that, fewer than 30,000 did.

Now, a policy in Connecticut threatens that progress. It allows males who identify as female to compete in girls’ sports. But males have obvious physical advantages and have deprived girls in Connecticut repeatedly of championship titles and opportunities to advance to the next level of competition.

Thankfully, four female athletes are standing up to this unfair treatment. 

Read more about the case below. 

 

Who: Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith, and Ashley Nicoletti 

Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith, and Ashley Nicoletti are high-performing track and field athletes. All four have spent years and hundreds—if not thousands—of hours training for the chance to secure titles and earn college scholarships. 

But the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) has been allowing males to compete in the female category. This threatens the opportunities for female athletes to earn titles and even scholarships. 

Take Chelsea for example. Four times, Chelsea has been the fastest girl in a state championship race, yet been sent home without a gold medal because she was beaten by a male. She’s also lost two all-New England awards to male athletes. And she’s not alone.

In 2019, Selina finished just one place short of advancing to the final round of the Indoor Track and Field State Championships. Selina likely would’ve gone on to compete at regionals, but two biological males who identify as female competed against her, winning first and second place and setting state records. Instead of getting to compete in front of college scouts, Selina was relegated to the sidelines.

Alanna Smith also has a promising career ahead of her in track and field. In 2019, she won the 400-meter dash at the New England Regional Championships as a freshman. Later, however, Alanna came in second place to a male in the 200-meter dash. Alanna is a talented athlete, but if she is forced to continue competing against males, her opportunities will diminish. 

Ultimately, the CIAC policy creates an unfair athletic environment and disadvantages for girls.

 

What: Soule et al. v. Connecticut Association of Schools 

Title IX protects equal opportunity in girls’ sports. But the CIAC’s policy makes it harder for girls to chase their athletic dreams, effectively opposing Title IX. That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit challenging this policy: After all, our laws and policies should reflect the biological reality that men and women are different, not ignore it.

In taking a stand with Selina, Alanna, Chelsea, and Ashley, ADF is ensuring that this reality is recognized and that these female athletes can compete on a level playing field. 

 

When: February 2020 – Present 

In 2020, ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court against the CIAC.  

Thankfully, in March, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief that supports ADF’s position in this case, stating: “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. 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.”

 

Where: Connecticut

The CIAC implemented this policy statewide, threatening equal opportunities for female athletes across the state. 

 

Why: To protect women’s sports 

Biologically, men have many physical advantages over women, including a greater muscle mass, greater bone density, higher lung capacity, and larger hearts. Regardless of how they identify, the reality of men’s inherent physiological strength means that no matter how hard a girl trains, she cannot compete at the same level as a comparably fit biological male. 

Unfortunately, Selina, Alanna, Chelsea, and Ashley aren’t the only girls in their state whose athletic opportunities have been unfairly taken away. 

Since the CIAC adopted this policy, female athletes have repeatedly watched from the sidelines as biological males win medals and honors that otherwise would have been theirs. Now, biological males have taken 15 state titles that previously were held by nine different girls in Connecticut. 

Men and women simply are biologically different—to ignore this fact in the arena of sports tips the whole playing field. 

“Even before I get to the track, I already know that I’m not going to get first place, or maybe even second place,” Alanna says. “I know that no matter how hard I work, I won’t be able to have the top spot.” Selina, Chelsea, Alanna, and Ashley know that when they compete against biological males, the odds are stacked against them—and no amount of training can change that.

 

The Bottom Line 

Allowing males to participate in girls’ sports denies equal opportunities.

There are real physical differences between men and women, and those differences matter. When the law treats men and women as if they have no biological differences, many times it’s women who are hurt. What we’re seeing in sports today is a perfect example of this. 

Within just three years, over 85 chances to compete in elite athletic competitions have been taken from girls across the state. Equality in women’s sports needs to be protected. 

Caroline Roberts is a strategic communications writer at Alliance Defending Freedom.

Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on the Alliance Defending Freedom.

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