Appeals court allows female athletes’ suit over competition with males to go forward in Connecticut

A Connecticut lawsuit challenging the fairness of allowing males to compete as girls in high school sports has been reinstated by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Previously, a…

A Connecticut lawsuit challenging the fairness of allowing males to compete as girls in high school sports has been reinstated by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Previously, a three-judge panel in the 2nd Circuit dismissed the case involving the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), which governs high school athletics in the state.

Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith and Ashley Nicoletti filed the suit four years ago after each suffered defeats when the CIAC allowed transgender males to compete against the girls, said the girls’ attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

“Selina, Chelsea, Alanna and Ashley – like all female athletes – deserve access to fair competition,” said ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks. “The CIAC’s policy degraded each of their accomplishments and scarred their athletic records, irreparably harming each female athlete’s interest in accurate recognition of her athletic achievements.”

In the new decision, the court met with all 15 judges present.

A majority found that the lawsuit should proceed as the plaintiffs demonstrated they had “acts sufficient to establish Article III standing at this stage in the litigation,” said the court. 

Three judges dissented, but the court noted the entire panel agreed “unanimously” that that the plaintiffs “adequately pled a concrete, particularized, and actual injury in fact: the alleged denial of equal athletic opportunity and concomitant loss of publicly recognized titles and placements during track and field competitions in which they participated against and finished behind” the males. 

Judge Alison J. Nathan said that in the court’s majority opinion, without deciding the merits of the case, the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs could be addressed by injunctive and monetary relief. 

“Accordingly, we VACATE the judgment of the district court and REMAND for further proceedings,” Nathan wrote on behalf of the court.  

ADF said that starting in 2017, two male athletes began competing in Connecticut girls’ high school track. In just three years, those two males broke 17 girls’ track meet records, deprived girls of more than 85 opportunities to advance to the next level of competition and took 15 women’s state track championship titles. 

The plaintiffs have alleged that in speaking out against the unfairness of girls having to compete against biological males in sports, they have endured all manner of abuse from people. 

“It’s very important because especially with social media. You know, we get a lot of backlash, but it’s mostly from people that we don’t know, people that hide behind screens,” Smith, one of the plaintiffs, told Fox News.  

Smith, who now runs track for the University of Tennessee, said she’s been fighting against the CIAC on the issue of trans participation in girls’ sports since 2018.

It’s a topic that needs to be talked about, said Smith, because she doesn’t want other girls to become sidelined in what’s supposed to be “girls” sports, protected by Title IX, under federal civil rights laws.  

ADF attorney Christiana Keifer said that she’s happy the girls will now have the opportunity, after four years, to finally make their case in court. 

“They deserve to make their full case under Title IX,” said Kiefer. “So it’s been Alliance Defending Freedom’s privilege to stand alongside them for years now. And we look forward to continuing to seek justice for these young women and to get their records corrected because they were forced to compete against males throughout all their time in high school.”