NEW YORK – In a victory for transgender youth, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a student athletic policy in Connecticut allowing transgender students to play on the teams most consistent with their gender identity.
On behalf of Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, two transgender young women, the ACLU and the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut defended the transgender youth participation policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) in Soule et al v. CT Association of Schools et al, the nation’s first federal court case challenging such a policy.
In today’s ruling, the Second Circuit ruled the claims that cisgender girls were denied opportunities or championships to be moot and unfounded, ultimately ruling they lacked standing to challenge the CIAC’s policy. The court noted that, on numerous occasions, the cisgender plaintiffs placed first in various events, even sometimes when competing against Yearwood and Miller. The court also affirmed discrimination against transgender students violates Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs, aligning today’s ruling with the Supreme Court’s ruling on Title VII in Bostock v. Clayton County.
“Today’s ruling is a critical victory for fairness, equality, and inclusion,” said Joshua Block, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “The court rejected the baseless zero-sum arguments presented by the opposition to this policy and ultimately found transgender girls have as much a right to play as cisgender girls under Title IX. This critical victory strikes at the heart of political attacks against transgender youth while helping ensure every young person has the right to play.”
“Trans student athletes belong on our sports teams and in our schools, and all trans youth should be celebrated and protected for who they are. Today, the courts have once again dismissed this lawsuit seeking to attack trans student athletes. The record shows that our clients played by the rules, and the court agreed,” said Elana Bildner, ACLU Foundation of Connecticut senior staff attorney.
During their senior year, cisgender girls represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom–an organization that takes credit for a record surge in anti-transgender bills introduced by state legislators in recent years–filed a lawsuit arguing that the presence of transgender girls on girls’ sports teams violated Title IX. The Connecticut district court dismissed the case last year, but the plaintiffs immediately appealed to the Second Circuit.
The full Second Circuit ruling can be found here.