Selina Soule is a Connecticut high school track athlete who is challenging the state’s policy of allowing athletes to compete in sports based on their gender identity after losing to transgender athletes.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit religious organization that has been labeled an anti-LGBT “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education on behalf of Soule and two unnamed athletes Monday, CNN reported.
The complaint alleges that the Connecticut policy violates Title IX, which ensures students have equal access to opportunities regardless of their gender.
The complaint says transgender athletes should be banned from competing based on gender identity, claiming that the current policy results in “boys displacing girls in competitive track events.”
“No one in the state of Connecticut is happy about this, but no one has enough courage to speak up,” Soule told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Monday. “There have been countless other female athletes in the state of Connecticut, as well as my entire indoor track team. We missed out on winning the state open championship because of the team that the transgender athlete was on.”
Terry Miller, one of the transgender athletes cited in the complaint, told The Hartford Courant that she just wants the same opportunities granted to other girls.
“I have faced discrimination in every aspect of my life and I no longer want to remain silent,” Miller told the outlet. “I am a girl and I am a runner. I participate in athletics just like my peers to excel, find community and meaning in my life. It is both unfair and painful that my victories have to be attacked and my hard work ignored.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Soule Finished 8th in Race Involving Two Transgender Athletes
Soule, who is a track athlete at Glastonbury High School in Glastonbury, Connecticut, finished eighth in a qualifying race and claimed that she failed to qualify because two transgender athletes were in the race, The Daily Signal reports.
Soule told the outlet that she was not able to qualify for the 55-meter event in the New England regionals because of the transgender runners. If the two athletes had been barred from the race, Soule said, she would have finished sixth and qualified for the regionals.
“I haven’t been the only one affected by this,” she told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Monday. “There have been countless other female athletes in the state of Connecticut, as well as my entire indoor track team. We missed out on winning the state open championship because of the team that the transgender athlete was on.”
2. Religious Group Filed a Title IX Complaint Seeking to Bar Transgender Athletes
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a Title IX complaint on behalf of Soule and two other athletes who were not named because they are minors with the Department of Education.
Christina Holcomb, an attorney for the religious legal aid group, told Fox News that the federal government should step in.
“Alliance Defending Freedom, on behalf of Selina and a couple of other brave female athletes, has filed or is in the process of filing a Title IX complaint asking the Department of Education to step in, to investigate, and to restore a level playing field for Selina,” Holcomb said.
Title IX protects students from gender-based discrimination.
Because the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference implemented a policy “that allows biological males who claim a female identity to compete in girls’ athletic events,” the complaint says, “boys have consistently deprived Soule and the other female athletes of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels.”
“Girls like Selina should never be forced to be spectators in their own sports, but, unfortunately, that is exactly what is taking place when you allow biological males to compete in sports that have been set aside and specifically designed for women like Selina,” Holcomb said. “Title IX was designed to ensure that girls have a fair shake at athletics, and are not denied the opportunity to participate at the highest levels of competition.”
3. Transgender Athlete Named in Complaint: ‘I am a Girl and I am a Runner’
Terry Miller, a track runner at Bloomfield High and one of the transgender athletes named in the complaint, rejected the claim that she should not be allowed to participate in girls track events.
“I have faced discrimination in every aspect of my life and I no longer want to remain silent,” she said in a statement to the Hartford Courant. “I am a girl and I am a runner. I participate in athletics just like my peers to excel, find community and meaning in my life. It is both unfair and painful that my victories have to be attacked and my hard work ignored.”
Miller and fellow transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood, a track runner at Cromwell High School, are working with the American Civil Liberties Union amid the complaint.
“I have known two things for most of my life: I am a girl and I love to run,” Yearwood said in a statement. “There is no shortage of discrimination that I face as a young black woman who is transgender. I have to wake up every day in a world where people who look like me face so many scary and unfair things.
“I am lucky to live in a state that protects my rights and to have a family that supports me. This is what keeps me going. Every day I train hard — I work hard to succeed on the track, to support my teammates, and to make my community proud.”
4. Connecticut is One of 19 States That Allows Transgender Athletes to Compete Without Restrictions
Connecticut is one of 19 state high school associations that allow transgender athletes to compete without any restrictions, according to transathlete.com.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference defended the policy, which differs from the rules set by USA Track and Field, that require transgender athletes to undergo hormone therapy, The Courant reported.
CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini told the outlet that the organization is “committed to equity in providing opportunities to student athletes in Connecticut.”
“We take such matters seriously, and we believe that the current CIAC policy is appropriate under both Connecticut law and Title IX,” he added.
“Living in a state that protects my rights is something that I do not take for granted,” Miller told the Courant. “So many young trans people face exclusion at school and in athletics and it contributes to the horrible pain and discrimination that my community faces. The more we are told that we don’t belong and should be ashamed of who we are, the fewer opportunities we have to participate in sports at all. And being an athlete can help us survive.
“But instead we are being told to be quiet, to go home, to stop being who we are. I will continue to fight for all trans people to compete and participate consistent with who we are. There is a long history of excluding Black girls from sport and policing our bodies. I am a runner and I will keep running and keep fighting for my existence, my community and my rights.”
She added: “I hope that the next generation of trans youth doesn’t have to fight the fights that I have. I hope they can be celebrated when they succeed not demonized. For the next generation, I run for you!”
5. Group Behind Lawsuit Labeled ‘Hate Group’ by Southern Poverty Law Center
The ADF, the group that filed the complaint on behalf of Soule, was labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society,” The SPLC says. “ADF also works to develop ‘religious liberty’ legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion. Since the election of President Donald Trump, the ADF has become one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attack on LGBT rights working with an ally in Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement calling the group’s complaint “heartbreaking.”
Attacking two black young women who are simply participating in the sport they love just because they are transgender is wrong, it is dangerous, and it distorts Title IX, which is a law that protects all students on the basis of sex,” ACLU attorney Chase Strangio told the Courant. “Efforts to undermine Title IX by claiming it doesn’t apply to a subset of girls will ultimately hurt all students.”