Department of Education: Connecticut Public Schools Transgender Athletics Policy Risks Losing Federal Funding

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2020 file photo, high school track athletes Alanna Smith, left, Selina Soule, center and and Chelsea Mitchell prepare to speak at a news conference outside the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, Conn. The three girls have filed a federal lawsuit to block a state …
Pat Eaton-Robb/AP Photo, File

The state of Connecticut’s policy to allow biological males to compete against biological females in sports competitions could result in a loss of federal funding. 

The warning from the agency’s civil rights office comes as the issue has gained national attention after three high school female athletes in the state sued, claiming allowing men to compete against women violates the federal Title IX statute to protect female students from discrimination based on their biological sex.

The three girls — Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell — challenged the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s decision to allow boys to compete against them if they “identify” as girls.

The Hill reported on the development:

New Haven Public Schools and the Capitol Region Education Council were reportedly asked to sign a document in order to receive $3 million in federal funds for magnet schools saying they will “not participate in any interscholastic sporting events” unless they rescind their policy on transgender athletes.

The schools argue that they are following a state law that requires students to be treated as the gender that they identify. 

Timothy Sullivan Jr., the superintendent of schools for the education council, told the AP it will not sign the document, adding that it is “unconscionable that the federal government would threaten to take away funds that support Hartford area children during a pandemic, and we will fight to keep the money in our community.”

Department of Education Press Secretary Angela Morabito told The Hill that “Congress requires the Department to withhold funds from schools that aren’t in compliance with the law.”

“Connecticut applicants declined — on multiple occasions — to assure the Office for Civil Rights that they are in compliance with Title IX,” Marabito said.

The transgender athletics issue also gained the national spotlight this year when Idaho became the first state to pass a law protecting women from competing against men.

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