In a 27-page decision issued Sunday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by several high school track athletes that sought to end the policy of allowing transgender athletes to compete in Connecticut high school girls' sports.
As reported by The Stamford Advocate, the suit was filed in February of last year ahead of the girls' outdoor track season by Selina Soule, then a Glastonbury High School senior, Alanna Smith, then a Danbury High School sophomore, and Chelsea Mitchell, then a Canton High School senior. Ashley Nicoletti, then an Immaculate High School sophomore, was later added to the suit.
Plaintiffs attorney Roger Brooks, from the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that such laws guarantee girls “equal quality” of competition, which he said is denied by having to race people with what he described as inherent physiological advantages, ABC News reported.
The Connecticut lawsuit argued that female transgender athletes robbed cisgender athletes of certain opportunities, including participation in elite post-season competitions, potential setting of records or earning scholarships. It sought to end the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference policy that allowed transgender athletes to compete in girls' sports and to remove their names from any recorded or recognized achievement. They also sought monetary relief. It was filed after the plaintiffs submitted a complaint with the Department of Education that the policy violated Title IX, a federal law gives equal opportunity in athletics.
Defense attorney Joshua Block argued the CIAC policy doesn’t deny any girl a meaningful opportunity to participate in sports, but that overturning it would violate the Title IX rights of transgender girls.
“No court, no agency has ever defined a participation opportunity as winning an equal number of trophies,” he argued, according to ABC News.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny wrote that the two transgender athletes whose participation precipitated the legal action, sprinters Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, had already graduated, and it was unlikely the plaintiffs would have to compete against transgender athletes in the following season.
“I conclude that the plaintiffs’ challenge to the [CIAC] policy is not justiciable at this time and their claims for monetary relief are barred and dismiss the action on this basis without addressing the other grounds raised in the joint motion,” Chatigny wrote, as reported by the Advocate.
“There is no indication that Smith and Nicoletti will encounter competition by a transgender student in a CIAC-sponsored event next season,” Chatigny wrote, noting that the defendants were unaware of any transgender athletes competing in the events at this time. Both Soule and Mitchell had already graduated and were no longer eligible for such competitions.
If another transgender athlete does chose to compete in any events, both Smith and Nicoletti could file another Title IX complaint and new motion for a preliminary injunction, Chatigny wrote.
According to ABC News, lawmakers in more than 20 states have introduced legislation to ban or limit transgender athletes from competing on teams or sports that align with their gender identity. Laws banning transgender women and girls from participating in organized sports have been signed in Idaho, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Whether or not this ruling will have a chilling effect on the nationwide trend of introducing legislation addressing transgender participation in sports remains to be seen.