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Department of Education Takes Aim at Trans Athletes

Betsy DeVos

An anti-LGBTQ+ group has filed a complaint saying trans high school athletes violate Title IX.

The Department of Education, which is under Secretary Betsy DeVos has taken up an anti-trans complaint filed by an anti-LGBTQ+ legal group in Connecticut. According to the complaint, the school's trans-inclusive policy has "denied equal athletic benefits and opportunities for girls" says a new AP report.

Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ+ law firm filed a complaint on behalf of three cisgender teen athletes alleging that the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's trans-inclusive policy of non-discrimination violates Title IX, which forbids discrimination in any federally funded "education program or activity on the basis of sex."

Christiana Halcomb, the legal counsel for ADF said that "girls deserve to compete on a level playing field." In her statement, Halcolmb misgenders trans youth, stating "women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides. Allowing boys to compete in girls' sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women under this law. We shouldn't force these young women to be spectators in their own sports."

In 2017, the Trump administration reinterpreted Title IX, in a reading that puts transgender and gender nonconforming youth at risk of facing increased harassment, at school and beyond. The law prohibits schools from discrimination on "the basis of sex," which was determined to include gender identity under the Obama administration The Trump administration has revoked those protections.

Connecticut along with 19 other states and the District of Columbia, prohibits discrimination against transgender students in atheltic programs. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference says its policy follows the state's anti-discrimination law which requires students to be treated in school according to their gender identity.

"I have faced discrimination in every aspect of my life and I no longer want to remain silent," Terry Miller, one of the trans athletes in the complaint, said in an interview with The Courant. "I am a girl and I am a runner. I participate in athletics just like my peers to excel, find community and meaning in my life. It is both unfair and painful that my victories have to be attacked and my hard work ignored."

75 percent of transgender students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression according to GLSEN's 2015 National School Climate Survey.

GLSEN recommends athletic directors and PE teachers refer to their resource, Trans Inclusion in High School Athletics, which is aimed at helping to create a safer and more supportive learning environments for all students, and to ensure that all students have the opportunity to express themselves and live authentically.

RELATED | Betsy DeVos Says She's 'Aware' of the Danger She Put Trans Kids In

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