Attorney General Bonta Files Friend-of-the-Court Brief in Defense of Transgender Student Athletes
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in an amicus brief in Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools in support of the ability of transgender students to participate in school sports. In Soule, the plaintiffs incorrectly allege that Connecticut school policies that permit transgender student athlete participation in school sports in line with their gender identity violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX). In the amicus brief, the coalition highlights the states’ compelling interests in giving all students an opportunity to compete in athletics free from discrimination and protecting the civil rights of transgender Americans nationwide.
“All of our student athletes deserve a chance to be themselves and participate in the full school experience,” said Attorney General Bonta. “But this case threatens to rip that chance away from kids across the country just because of who they are. It’s part of a nationwide attack on the rights of our LGBTQ+ communities. It’s unacceptable and that’s why we’re fighting back. Transgender student athletes — like all of our kids — shouldn’t have to worry about being targeted in school. Our message is simple: Let them play.”
In February 2020, several cisgender female students filed a lawsuit challenging policies adopted by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) that allow transgender students to participate in gender-segregated sports in line with their gender identity. In the complaint targeting the participation of two transgender female students, the plaintiffs erroneously assert that CIAC’s policies discriminate against cisgender female students by providing them materially fewer opportunities for success and reducing their chances of gaining recognition as champions. Citing lack of standing and the fact that the two transgender athletes had already graduated, the district court dismissed the case in April 2021. The plaintiffs subsequently appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Should Title IX be enforced in line with the plaintiffs’ interpretation, school districts and colleges across the nation could suffer in their capacity to safeguard the rights of transgender students and to protect them from unjust discrimination on the playing field. Since 2013, California law has permitted transgender students to fully participate in gender-segregated school activities, including sports, in accordance with their gender identity.
In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts:
- Transgender youth face pervasive and harmful discrimination that causes them serious health and academic harms;
- Allowing transgender students to live consistent with their gender identity yields benefits for those students and for society;
- Title IX’s statutory language does not require the exclusion of transgender students from gender-segregated sports teams; and
- The participation of transgender students in athletic events does not deprive cisgender students of equal treatment or effective accommodation under Title IX.
In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here.