ACLU Slams Lawsuit Prohibiting Student Transgender Athletes from Competing in Girls Sports

The American Civil Liberties Union fired back after two transgender student-athletes were listed in a federal lawsuit preventing transgender athletes from competing in girls sports in Connecticut.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, is challenging the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) and multiple boards on a rule that allows transgender students to join athletic teams aligning with the gender they identify with.

The Lawsuit

  • The suit identifies three high school girls who run track and field at different high schools in Connecticut. Their families are suing for violations under Title IX, which mandates equal opportunity for both female and male students, according to the lawsuit. It states that transgender student-athletes, who identify as female, are taking away scholarship and recruitment opportunities from their peers who are not transgender.

  • “Unfortunately for Plaintiffs and other girls in Connecticut, those dreams and goals — those opportunities for participation, recruitment, and scholarships—are now being directly and negatively impacted by a new policy that is permitting boys who are male in every biological respect to compete in girls’ athletic competitions if they claim a female gender identity,” the lawsuit states.

  • The student athletes listed in the suit are Selina Soule, a 12th-grade female student and varsity track and field athlete at Glastonbury High School; Chelsea Mitchell, a 12th-grade female student and varsity track and field athlete at Canton High School; and Alanna Smith, a 10th-grade female student and varsity track and field athlete at Danbury High School who are challenging the rule.

  • It also lists two transgender-student athletes from Connecticut: Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who have competed in track and field competitions in the CIAC. Although the two students identify as female, the suit lists them as “two biological males.”

  • The suit claims that Miller and Yearwood have “taken 15 women’s state championship titles (titles held in 2016 by nine different Connecticut female athletes) and have taken more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher level competitions from female track athletes in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons alone.”

  • The complaint also claims that Miller and Yearwood’s wins have negatively impacted other girls from winning. In one example, when Yearwood advanced as a freshman to the 2017 Women’s Outdoor Track competition, she reportedly “deprived a girl of a statewide title and opportunity to advance to still higher levels of competition that she had rightfully earned.”

  • "Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing them to compete against boys isn't fair, shatters their dreams, and destroys their athletic opportunities," Christiana Holcomb, the attorney representing the three families, said at a news conference, according to WFSB. "And forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics."

What They’re Saying

The ACLU slammed the lawsuit, noting that it misgenders Miller and Yearwood and it defeats the purpose of high school sports, which is supposed to be inclusive.

“Today’s complaint filed in Connecticut targeting the inclusion of transgender girls in girls’ athletics and specifically naming Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood is a dangerous distortion of both law and science in the service of excluding trans youth from public life. The purpose of high school athletics is to support inclusion, build social connection and teamwork, and help all students thrive and grow,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. “Efforts to undermine Title IX by claiming it doesn’t apply to a subset of girls will ultimately hurt all students and compromise the work of ending the long legacy of sex discrimination in sports.”

Miller, a Black, trans student athlete, said in a statement that it is unfair she is being attacked for all of her hard work and achievements because she is transgender.

“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,” Miller said.

“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 sports and policing our bodies. I am a runner and I will keep running and keep fighting for my existence, my community, and my rights,” Miller continued.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.