Selina Soule
Terry Miller, now a student in Bloomfield, set records in the 100 and 200 meter races at the State Open high school boys and girls track and field championships at Veterans Stadium in New Britain in June, 2018. In the 100, Miller beat (L to R) Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell, Chelsea Mitchell of Canton, Bridget Lalonde of RHAM and Maya Mocarski of Fairfield Lu. (John Woike, Hartford Courant) John Woike / Hartford Courant

Selina Soule said Monday she is ‘grateful’ that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has agreed to investigate Connecticut’s policy that allows high school transgender athletes to compete as the gender with which they identify.

“Girls should never be simply spectators in their own sport, they deserve to compete on a level playing field,” said the Glastonbury High School athlete. “I hope that this important step will help return fairness to the sport I love, for me and for all girls who dream big.”

Soule and two other girls who were not named filed a complaint in June contending that the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference policy on transgender athlete participation violates Title IX.

In a letter to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative group that filed the complaint on behalf of Soule and the two other girls, Adrienne M. Mundy-Shepard, acting regional director for the Office for Civil Rights, wrote that “opening the complaint for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination on the merits of the complaint.”

The complaint argues that the girls’ Title IX rights have been violated by the CIAC policy because it pits girls against athletes who are biologically male despite their female gender identity. They contend the situation has robbed them of top finishes, the chance to compete in postseason play  and possibly college scholarships.

Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for the Alliance, said the OCR decision to investigate is “excellent news. It’s certainly a step in the right direction. We are optimistic now that OCR has opened an investigation that it will ultimately conclude that the [CIAC] violated Title IX by allowing biological males to compete in girls athletics.”

Holcomb said, however that she wanted to clarify that at this point, all that OCR has said is that “they recognize they have jurisdiction and have opened an investigation.”

Selina Soule, one of three female athletes who have brought a Title IX complaint against the CIAC.

A statement from the CIAC said the organization is “committed to equity in providing opportunities to student athletes in Connecticut, and the CIAC will participate fully with this investigation.”

In the letter, the  OCR says it will investigate whether the CIAC and the Glastonbury Board of Education have “denied equal athletic benefits and opportunities to girls” through the transgender participation policy.

The OCR said it will also investigate whether the CIAC retaliated against one of the complainants for her advocacy against the transgender policy by informing her in March, 2019 that the CIAC’s executive director would no longer accept communications from her.

And OCR said it will look into whether the Glastonbury district “retaliated” against a student when,  the letter says,  her track coach replaced her on a sprint medley team in Feb. 2019; told her and her parents  that he could not give a good report to college coaches about her; and denied her a position as a team captain.

Glastonbury Superintendent Alan Bookman said of the investigation: “We’re obviously going to defend our position. We feel we’ve done everything correctly and that’s out job to show that to the Office of Civil Rights.”

Dan Barrett, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, which has helped the transgender athletes, Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell and Terry Miller of Bloomfield, get their message out, said “Efforts to undermine Title IX by claiming it doesn’t apply to a subset of girls will ultimately hurt all students.

“Girls who are transgender are girls. The Trump administration – from the Office of Civil Rights to the Supreme Court – is systematically trying to roll back rights for transgender people in all aspects of life,” Barrett continued.  “We will fight to defend transgender people across the country, including in sports. Connecticut’s policy of allowing all girls, including transgender girls, to run on the girls team remains unchanged.“

With the CIAC policy in play, Yearwood and Miller have won multiple championships, with Miller shattering state records in recent years and winning the Hartford Courant’s girls’ indoor track and field athlete of the year award this year.

There is no time frame on when OCR will complete its investigation.

Kathleen Megan wrote for more than three decades for the Hartford Courant, covering education in recent years and winning many regional and national awards. She is now covering education and child welfare issues for the Mirror.

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8 Comments

  1. There is significant justification and merit, to this lawsuit. No one wants to discriminate or penalize the LGBTQ Community. However, when you implement laws and privileges to benefit one community, at the expense of another. There is something clearly wrong, and imbalanced. This issue and current laws must be revisited, to ensure all groups have equal fair and balanced access and opportunity to excel, when participating in interscholastic sports.

  2. Stop the insanity. If you are a man but have decided to identify as a woman, that’s great. But until you undergo a very painful and expensive sex change operation and take truckloads of hormones, you are still a biological man who “Identifies” as a female. You are NOT a biological female. Should you be unconscious and taken to a hospital; doctors will identify you as John Doe not Jane Doe because of you equipment. Your “feelings” can’t change your gender. Men Competing in Women’s Sports is unfair.

  3. This is easily the stupidest thing to come from the left in a long time. It’s really simple- XX can compete with XX, XY competes with XY.

    I cannot decide I am an 8 year old girl because I might feel like it.

  4. To the logical mind this is so cut and dry it’s ridiculous. Science governs reality in issues of climate change, medicine, you name it. The logical mind accepts science. I’ve seen people who subscribe to the reality of science on the issue of vaccines and melting ice caps suddenly crawl under a rock on the issue of gender dysphoria, which is what we are talking about here. They allow those who suffer from this affliction to essentially set the rules and so through misunderstanding and cowardice we allow this nonsense to continue at the expense of female athletes.

  5. “Girls who are transgender are girls”

    No, they are not. You can’t change your gender. Your DNA is your DNA and is not a social thing.

  6. LGBT students deserve all the fairness that is afforded to non LGBT students but this is about science. If you support letting trans kids compete in athletics without hormone replacement (the NCAA and Olympic requirement) then you have to support doing away with all gender based high school sports. No girls soccer, basketball, tennis, etc. It’s just that simple.

  7. Why not use the term “liberal” or “left-wing” to modify the name of American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut when the writer made a point to define Alliance Defending Freedom as “the conservative group”. Both are Civil Rights Groups but with differing opinions. To use the adjective “conservative” in blue-state Connecticut is to let readers know you don’t think much of them. In my opinion.

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