Three high school student athletes in Connecticut have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), claiming that the state's policy on transgender athletes violates Title IX.
Office for Civil Rights Complaint Says Connecticut Violates Title IX
The lawsuit has been filed by the conservative Christian advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of three girls who compete in high school track. The lawsuit targets a statewide policy in Connecticut that was created by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), the organization governing high school sports throughout the state.
That policy allows transgender athletes to compete in sports according to their expressed gender identity, rather than their assigned sex. The policy had been created to comply with a Connecticut anti-discrimination law that requires schools to treat students according to their expressed gender identity.
Sixteen other states have similar policies in place.
The three girls behind the lawsuit, however, claim that competing against transgender athletes has cost them top finishes in races and potentially even college scholarships in track and field. Two of the girls filing the lawsuit have not revealed their identities.
The lawsuit demands that the OCR review the CIAC's policy and deem it a violation of Title IX.
Schools Between a Rock and a Hard Place
The lawsuit once again highlights an unfortunate aspect of Title IX law: Schools and educational organizations like the CIAC, here, are stuck between two sides of a dispute. No matter what they do, they are going to get sued.
In this case, if the CIAC refused to let the transgender runners compete in the women's class according to their gender identity, the transgender runners would have sued and claimed the decision violated state law. Because the CIAC allowed them to run in the women's division, they are being sued by other runners.
Federal Versus State Law
Whenever state law contradicts federal law, federal law is supposed to reign supreme. This is the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution, at Article VI, Clause 2. Even if the federal rule is just a regulation, like the mandates behind Title IX, it is supposed to trump state laws that run against it.
However, for the Supremacy Clause to apply, the state law truly has to contradict a federal one. Because the legal meaning of words like “sex” and “gender” are still in dispute when it comes to people who are transgender, it is unlikely that the resolution is going to be so simple.
Title IX Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX defense lawyer and a national Title IX advisor. If you have been accused of violating Title IX, attorney Lento can be a valuable ally. With his understanding of the tricky and often uncertain Title IX system, as well as strong advocacy and courtroom skills, attorney Lento can help you preserve your future by invoking your rights. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 to get started on your defense today.