A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by several high school track athletes that sought to end a policy that allowed transgender athletes in Connecticut to compete in girls sports.
In a 27-page decision issued Sunday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny wrote that Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, both transgender athletes, had already graduated and it was unlikely the plaintiffs would have to compete against transgender athletes in the following season.
“I conclude that the plaintiffs’ challenge to the [Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference] policy is not justiciable at this time and their claims for monetary relief are barred and dismiss the action on this basis without addressing the other grounds raised in the joint motion,” Chatigny wrote.
The suit was filed in February of last year ahead of the girls outdoor track season by Selina Soule, then a Glastonbury High School Senior, Alanna Smith, then a Danbury High School sophomore, Chelsea Mitchell, then a Canton High School senior. Ashley Nicoletti, then an Immaculate High School sophomore, was later added to the suit.
They argued that female transgender athletes robbed cisgender athletes of certain opportunities, from elite post-season competitions to setting records.
The lawsuit sought to end the CIAC policy that allowed transgender athletes to compete in girls sports and to remove their names from any recorded or recognized achievement. They also sought monetary relief. It was filed after the plaintiffs submitted a complaint with the Department of Education that the policy violated Title IX, a federal law gives equal opportunity in athletics.
“There is no indication that Smith and Nicoletti will encounter competition by a transgender student in a CIAC-sponsored event next season,” Chatigny wrote, noting that the defendants were unaware of any transgender athletes competing in the events at this time. Both Soule and Mitchell had already graduated and were no longer eligible for such competitions.
If another transgender athlete does chose to compete in any events, both Smith and Nicoletti could file another Title IX complaint and new motion for a preliminary injunction, Chatigny wrote.
In arguing the motion to dismiss the case, the defendants said since the text of Title IX does not define individual sex, any individual should be allowed to participate in high school sports as outlined by Connecticut’s policy.
Relying on a state anti-discrimination law, Connecticut allows high school athletes to compete in sports according to their gender identity.
But in September 2020, the federal Department of Education, under then President Donald Trump, sent letters to Connecticut school districts threatening to withhold funding if the districts allowed transgender athletes to compete in girls sports.
Initially, the DOE had supported the lawsuit, claiming the policy allowing transgender athletes to compete in girls sports had violated Title IX.
An early executive order from President Joe Biden this year barred discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, which included high school sports.
The DOE withdrew those letters threatening funding in February and withdrew its support from the lawsuit filed by Soule, Smith, Mitchell and Nicoletti.
Staff writers Leah Brennan and Maggie Vanoni contributed to this story.