A federal court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the trans-inclusive student athletics policies of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) on Friday, according to a press release from the ACLU of Connecticut.
The case, Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on behalf of four Connecticut women who competed in track and field in high school and claimed that the state’s athletics policy that allows transgender women to compete against cisgender women put them at a competitive disadvantage which violated their Title IX rights.
In Friday’s ruling, the Second Circuit found that the claims of the plaintiffs in the case — Chelsea Mitchell, Ashley Nicoletti, Selina Soule and Alanna Smith — were moot and that they lacked standing to challenge CIAC’s policy. While the plaintiffs claimed that they were denied opportunities and championships due to the CIAC’s policy, the court noted that the plaintiffs placed first in various events, on several occasions, even when competing against the transgender women named in the complaint, Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller.
The ACLU of Connecticut, who argued on behalf of Yearwood and Miller, said that the ruling was a victory for transgender youth across the country.
“Today’s ruling is a critical victory for fairness, equality, and inclusion,” Joshua Block, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, said. “The court rejected the baseless zero-sum arguments presented by the opposition to this policy and ultimately found transgender girls have as much a right to play as cisgender girls under Title IX. This critical victory strikes at the heart of political attacks against transgender youth while helping ensure every young person has the right to play.”
The lawsuit was originally brought in April of last year and was the nation’s first federal case challenging such a policy. U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny dismissed the case, ruling that since the plaintiffs had already graduated from high school, the issue was “moot,” and could not be considered by the courts. Judge Chatigny also found that Connecticut’s policies are in line with federal law, stating that “courts across the country have consistently held that Title IX requires schools to treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”
Though the case has now been dismissed twice, it has been cited by others who want to ban transgender women and girls from competing against cisgender women in sports. The plaintiffs have testified before state legislatures in support of banning transgender athletes from sports in Kansas and North Dakota.
“Trans student athletes belong on our sports teams and in our schools, and all trans youth should be celebrated and protected for who they are,” Elana Bildner, ACLU Foundation of Connecticut senior staff attorney, said. “Today, the courts have once again dismissed this lawsuit seeking to attack trans student-athletes. The record shows that our clients played by the rules, and the court agreed.”