Advocates Defend Connecticut’s Inclusive Student Athletics Policy in Historic Hearing

Affiliate: ACLU of Connecticut
June 5, 2023 10:10 am

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NEW YORK — Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut will defend the state’s transgender-inclusive student athletics policy on behalf of two transgender athletes before a full panel hearing of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals tomorrow afternoon. This is the first federal case concerning the rights of transgender athletes to be heard by a full appeals court panel.

In 2018, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) was sued by the Alliance Defending Freedom — an organization that advocates for laws denying transgender people’s rights in schools, health care, and workplaces — over the participation of Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, two transgender high school track runners who participated under the CIAC’s participation policy. The ACLU and ACLU Foundation of Connecticut are defending the policy on behalf of Miller and Yearwood.

Audio of the hearing will be live-streamed here starting at 2 p.m. ET.

“The plaintiffs’ argument is filled with hypotheticals about a dystopia where cisgender girls disappear from the podium, but the court must rely on facts,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “The facts are that these plaintiffs repeatedly outperformed Andraya and Terry, and won an impressive collection of first place trophies in the process. There is enough room on the victory podium for transgender girls too. Under Title IX, all girls, including transgender girls, should be able to participate fully and equally in athletics, in accordance with who they are.”

“The court’s previous decision affirmed that our clients played by the rules and that all girls, trans and cisgender, have a right to play under Title IX,” said Elana Bildner, ACLU Foundation of Connecticut senior staff attorney. “We hope the court will follow the facts and uphold its earlier decision. No matter what, we know that trans children should be loved, affirmed, and respected everywhere, including in our schools and on our sports teams.”

In December 2022, a panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the CIAC’s policy and ruled the ADF’s claims, that cisgender girls were denied opportunities or championships, to be moot and unfounded. The court noted that, on numerous occasions, the cisgender plaintiffs placed first in various events, even sometimes when competing against Yearwood and Miller.

The court also affirmed discrimination against transgender students violates Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs, aligning the ruling with the Supreme Court’s ruling on Title VII in Bostock v. Clayton County.

The ACLU and its nationwide affiliate network are also challenging categorical bans on the participation of transgender student athletes in Idaho, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

For more on Soule et al v. CT Association of Schools et al, click here:

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