(Central Square) – Four female athletes are involved in a legal battle over transgender athletes that could set a serious precedent for similar fights at schools across the country.

Four female athletes have filed a federal lawsuit over Connecticut’s policy that allows female-identifying high school students to compete against girls. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week heard Soule v. Connecticut School Association, where a team of lawyers for girls argued the policy is unfair to girls and hands women’s sports victories to transgender athletes.

Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, Chelsea Mitchell and Ashley Nicoletti are four young women who saw their high school athletic goals derailed by transgender athletes. They argue that the policy violates the federal Title IX law, “the primary purpose of which was to ensure that girls have equal athletic opportunities to compete — and win — in girls’ sports.”

“For example, Mitchell would have won the 2019 state championship in the women’s 55m indoor event, but because two men finished first and second, she was denied a gold medal,” Alliance Defending Freedom said. , a legal group representing female athletes. “Saul, Smith and Nicoletti have also been or have been denied medals and/or promotion opportunities.”

The debate has sparked controversy at the local, state and national levels as athletes who were born biologically male but identify as female have joined women’s sports and often dominated competition.

Notably, trans athlete Leah Thomas, who was born biologically male, easily beat Olympic silver medalists Emma Wayant and Erica Sullivan this year at the NCAA 500-yard freestyle championships in March, as previously reported by The Center Square reported.

The same dynamic played out in Connecticut after the policy in question.

“As a result of CIAC policy, two men have been allowed to compete in girls’ athletics beginning in the 2017 track and field season,” ADF said. “In total, they won 15 women’s state titles (titles held by nine different Connecticut girls in 2016) and more than 85 opportunities to compete at a higher level from women’s track and field in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons alone.”

Supporters of the transgender policy argue that those who oppose the new policy discriminate against transgender athletes.

“Connecticut’s laws preventing discrimination against trans youth in school and sports are consistent with federal law,” said Elana Bildner, senior attorney for the ACLU of Connecticut Foundation. “Over the years, Andraya and Terry have carried more on their shoulders as two black trans youth than most adults do in a lifetime. We hope that the court will uphold the lower court’s decision so that our clients can move on with their lives and that all transgender students in Connecticut can be assured that their rights, humanity, and ability to participate fully in school communities are not compromised by the debate.”

The girls also say that the success of a transgender athlete takes away the opportunity to get a college scholarship.

“Girls deserve the same opportunity as boys to excel in athletics. Allowing boys to compete in women’s sports, as we see in Connecticut and elsewhere, robs girls of the opportunity to be champions, showcase their talents and potentially earn college scholarships,” said ADF Senior Counsel Christiana Keefer. “All female athletes deserve to compete on fair terms and we urge the court to ensure that their right to equal treatment and opportunity in sport is respected.”

The four athletes also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., last March.

“When I was a freshman in high school, everything changed,” Smith said in her testimony. “I knew I was going to compete against a man who identified as a woman at the State Open. I knew I had no chance of winning, despite training for hours and knowing my personal bests in every competition. I was defeated before I even hit the track. I knew it wasn’t fair to me or the other girls competing in the State Open. I knew that there was biologically advantageous competition fighting against me.”

The issue of equity was central to the school policy debate on the issue. The girl’s legal team argues that allowing transgender athletes to compete against girls creates an unequal playing field and threatens the existence of women’s sports.

“Men will always have an inherent physical advantage over comparably talented and trained girls; The whole purpose of Title IX was to ensure that girls had an equal athletic opportunity to compete – and win – in girls’ sports,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Roger Brooks. “And when our laws and policies fail to recognize the real physical differences between men and women, women and girls bear the brunt of the harm. We hope that the 2nd District will empower the young women we represent to continue their cause and put women’s sports back on a level playing field.”

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