The U.S. Department of Education says it will investigate the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s (CIAC) Transgender Participation Policy, which allows biological males to compete as females.
In June, the Christian nonprofit legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) on behalf of the families of three girls. The complaint argued that the CIAC’s policy of allowing biological males to compete in girls’ athletic events violates Title IX, the federal law designed to ensure equal opportunities for women and girls in education, including athletics.
“Females athletes deserve to compete on a level playing field,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Forcing them to compete against boys makes them spectators in their own sports, which is grossly unfair and destroys their athletic opportunities. For that reason, we are pleased that OCR has agreed to investigate. Title IX is a federal law that was designed to eliminate discrimination against women in education and athletics, and women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides. Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women.”
“Girls should have a fair shake at athletics—that’s what Title IX is all about,” posted Franklin Graham on Facebook in June after ADF filed the complaint. “… Pray that the courts will settle this issue and stop the discrimination against female athletes.”
Earlier this year, 16-year old track athlete Selina Soule was denied the opportunity to advance to the New England regionals, a popular event for college scouts, because two boys who identify as transgender finished first and second in a qualifying event.
The dispute is part of an issue that goes far beyond high school athletics. A recent study published in the Journal for Medical Ethics found that the International Olympic Committee’s guidelines—which mandate a certain maximum testosterone level for those competing in women’s events— still afford biological males who identify as transgender athletes an “intolerable unfairness” over biologically female competitors, despite arguments claiming that the suppression of testosterone levels eliminates natural advantages.
The study explains: “[The] indirect effects of testosterone will not be altered by hormone therapy. For example, hormone therapy will not alter bone structure, lung volume or heart size of the transwoman athlete, especially if [he] transitions post-puberty, so natural advantages including joint articulation, stroke volume and maximal oxygen uptake will be maintained.”
“Science demonstrates that high adult levels of testosterone, as well as permanent testosterone effects on male physiology in utero and during early development, provides a performance advantage in sports and that much of this male physiology is not mitigated by the transition to a transwoman,” said University of Otago physiology professor Alison Heather, one of the authors of the study.
“It’s time for the government to step in and restore a level playing field,” said President of Family Research Council Tony Perkins in his Washington Update blog.
An email from OCR to ADF said the agency will investigate whether the CIAC denied equal athletic benefits and opportunities to girls through its Transgender Participation Policy, as well as whether the girls faced retaliation from the CIAC and the local board of education as punishment for their public advocacy.
“I hope this important step will help return fairness to the sport I love,” said Soule.
Above: Selina Soule
Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom