On Sunday, a federal judge dismissed a high-profile lawsuit brought by four Connecticut high school female runners against the state’s governing body, ruling that a legal dispute about transgender athletes cannot proceed because the two transgender athletes in question have graduated.
The suit was filed by Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the four female athletes, who allege that the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) and other schools violated Title IX by allowing two boys who identify as girls to compete in girls’ events. Those two transgender athletes, Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, won a total of 15 state track titles. Title IX is a federal law that requires equal opportunities based on sex in education.
But U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny, in a 29-page decision, dismissed the lawsuit. He was nominated by President Clinton.
“I conclude that the request to enjoin enforcement of the CIAC policy has become moot due to the graduation of Yearwood and Miller, whose participation in girls’ track provided the impetus for this action,” he wrote.
Only two of the four female athletes are still in high school. They are Alanna Smith and Ashley Nicoletti.
“There is no indication that Smith and Nicoletti will encounter competition by a transgender student in a CIAC-sponsored event next season,” Chatigny wrote. “It is still theoretically possible that a transgender student could attempt to do so. Even then, however, a legally cognizable injury to these plaintiffs would depend on a transgender student running in the same events and achieving substantially similar times.”
Such “speculative contingencies” are “insufficient to satisfy” the legal requirements, he wrote.
Smith and Nicoletti can file another lawsuit “if it turns out that a transgender student does register to compete in girls’ track next season,” the judge ruled.
Chatigny implied he would have sided with CIAC even if the transgender athletes were still in high school.
“Courts across the country have consistently held that Title IX requires schools to treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity,” he wrote. “… Every Court of Appeals to consider the issue has so held.”
Alliance Defending Freedom said it will file an appeal. Male runners, ADF said, “consistently deprived” the four female athletes of “honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels.” Chelsea Mitchell, ADF said, “would have won the 2019 state championship in the women’s 55-meter indoor track competition” if not for the competition of the transgender athletes. Mitchell is another plaintiff in the case.
“Today’s ruling ignores the physical advantages that male athletes have over female athletes,” Mitchell said in a statement after the court’s decision. “Female athletes like me should have the opportunity to excel and compete fairly. No girl should have to settle into her starting blocks knowing that, no matter how hard she works, she doesn’t have a fair shot at victory.”
Said Nicoletti, “Girls like me have suffered countless losses because of the CIAC’s policy, and today’s ruling ignores this fact. I will continue to tell my story and fight for fairness in women’s sports.”
Photo courtesy: ©Alliance Defending Freedom
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.