Story at a glance

  • The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights found that a Connecticut policy violates Title IX.
  • The school policy allows transgender athletes to compete in female sporting events in line with state policy.

The U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights ruled that a Connecticuit policy that permits transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports violates the civil rights of female athletes.

The complaint is in regards to two sprinters who are transgender athletes. 

The Associated Press (AP) reports that the ruling is in regards to a complaint filed last year by multiple female track athletes, arguing that two transgender runners who were male at birth had an unfair physical advantage. 

In a 45-page letter dated May 15, the office reportedly said that it may seek to withhold federal funding due to the policy. It found that the policy is a violation of the federal civil rights law Title IX that protects women’s opportunity to participate in programs like athletics.


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The letter reportedly read that the policy “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities, including advancing to the finals in events, higher level competitions, awards, medals, recognition, and the possibility of greater visibility to colleges and other benefits.”

The Office for Civil Rights named the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) and several school districts in the ruling. The CIAC implemented the policy in accordance with state laws that prevent schools from discriminating against transgender students. 

It reportedly said that the federal office will “either initiate administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue and defer financial assistance” to the CIAC and the select school districts. It may also refer the cases to the U.S. Department of Justice.


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The topic of transgender athletes performing has been contested recently. Earlier in April, Idaho passed a ban called the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act that prevents transgender athletes competing in women’s sports on the basis of “different athletic capabilities.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a joint lawsuit against the state’s ban, saying that it violates Title IX. 

“All that today’s finding represents is yet another attack from the Trump administration on transgender students. DeVos’s Department of Education is wrong on the law and we will continue to defend transgender students under Title IX and the Constitution,” Chase Strangio, the Deputy Director for Trans Justuce of the ACLU told The Hill. “Trans students belong in our schools, including on sports teams, and we aren’t backing down from this fight.”

The plaintiff’s representation, the Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said males will always have "inherent physical advantages" over similarly talented females.

“Girls shouldn’t be reduced to spectators in their own sports,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb in a press release. “We’re encouraged that the Department of Education has officially clarified that allowing males to compete in the female category isn’t fair, destroys girls’ athletic opportunities, and clearly violates federal law. In light of the department’s letter, we’re asking Connecticut schools and the CIAC to update their problematic policies and comply with federal law.”

Currently, 18 states and Washington D.C. allow transgender athletes to compete without restrictions. 


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Published on May 28, 2020