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Hearing held on lawsuit looking to ban transgender athletes from girls' sports

"All girls deserve the chance to compete on a level playing field, but cisgender girls should not be sidelined in their own sports," said Alanna Smith of Danbury.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A hearing was held on a Friday on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that looks to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls' high school sports.

The lawsuit was filed last year by several cisgender runners who allege they missed out on opportunities for titles and scholarships, by having to compete against transgender athletes.

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice withdrew its support for the lawsuit.

RELATED: Dept. of Justice withdraws from lawsuit against Connecticut’s transgender athletes policy

"Throughout my four years in high school, I was forced to compete against biological males. Girls across Connecticut and New England all knew the outcome of our races long before the start and it was extremely demoralizing," said Selina Soule of Glastonbury.

"All girls deserve the chance to compete on a level playing field, but cisgender girls should not be sidelined in their own sports," said Alanna Smith of Danbury.

The runners are represented by lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom, who argue Connecticut's policy which allows students to participate in sports programs consistent with the gender they identify with, violates Title IX.

"Title IX promises our girls athletic opportunities and experiences every bit the equal of what their brothers enjoy. But instead, CIAC and Connecticut, are giving extra lessons in losing," said Attorney Roger Brooks.

The defendants in the case are the CIAC and several boards of education.

CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini released the following statement Friday:

"The CIAC has always maintained that its inclusive sports participation policy for transgender athletes complies with federal and state law, and was pleased by OCR’s recent withdrawal of the enforcement action against the CIAC or its member districts. Today the court heard arguments on why the federal court lawsuit should be dismissed and we look forward to receiving a ruling from the Court."  

Two transgender athletes are also specifically named in the suit. The ACLU of Connecticut defends those students' interests.

"We hope that the court agrees with our reading of Title IX and the reading that courts across the country have made of the statute which is that it does not affirmatively require schools in the United States to discriminate against trans athletes," said Dan Barrett, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut.

Lawyers for the CIAC argued it follows the state's policy and provides the same opportunities to all students to participate in school sports.

"On a school level do we offer equal opportunities, do we offer track and field that is meaningful? Yes. And in fact, to say to a school that you will not be able to participate in CIAC events means that you're not going to offer meaningful opportunities," said Attorney Linda Yoder.

The hearing came after the Biden administration withdrew government support for the lawsuit. Under the previous administration, the Justice Department and the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights agreed with the plaintiffs that Connecticut's policy violates Title IX. 

"It's a great sign that the national department of education will no longer be overtly hostile to trans students across the country," said Barrett.

The judge did not make a decision Friday and said it could take a few weeks.

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