The United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit heard arguments Tuesday in a case pertaining to four female athletes who competed against biological males.
In Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith, and Ashley Nicoletti argue that they “were consistently deprived of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels” because of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s policy allowing biological males who identify as transgender females to compete in girls’ athletic events.
Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, the young women are arguing that the state’s high school sports authority and five school boards violated Title IX through the decision to allow biological males to play on women’s sports teams.
A three-judge panel of the court ruled against the athletes in December 2022, saying that the young women had not suffered legal injury, and in February, the 2nd Circuit announced that the case would be reheard by the full court.
“Selina, Chelsea, Alanna, and Ashley—like all female athletes—deserve access to fair competition. The CIAC’s policy degraded each of their accomplishments and scarred their athletic records, irreparably harming each female athlete’s interest in accurate recognition of her athletic achievements,” John Bursch, Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy, said in a statement.
Bursch, who argued before the court on behalf of the athletes, added: “We urge the 2nd Circuit to set the record straight and allow these brave women to make their case under Title IX. This is imperative not only for the women who have been deprived of medals, potential scholarships, and opportunities, but also for all female athletes across the country.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has represented the two biologically male trans-identifying athletes. In December, attorneys with the ACLU applauded the decision ruling against the female athletes.
“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 in a statement. “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,” added Block, who was a member of the legal team that litigated Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case granting a right to marriage to same-sex couples.
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