A group of 28 Congressional Democrats is condemning last month’s threat by the U.S. Department of Education to withhold federal funds from Connecticut because of a policy that allows transgender student athletes to compete with cisgender students in school sports.
According to the Associated Press, the lawmakers sent a letter Wednesday to Kenneth Marcus, the DOE assistant secretary for civil rights, calling into question both the motives and legal reasoning behind the May 15th decision that found Connecticut in violation of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that guarantees equal education opportunities for women.
The irony that the very basis for that Connecticut’s Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s transgender-affirming policy is Title IX was not lost on these members of congress.
“Title IX was never meant to be used as a tool to threaten schools into discriminatory practices in order to preserve critically needed federal funds,” said Rep. Jahana Hayes, a former national teacher of the year.
The DOE and the anti-LGBT lawyers for three cisgender girls who filed a federal lawsuit related to this battle have noted two Connecticut trans athletes “frequently outperformed their competitors, winning a combined 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races since 2017.” But the delegation countered in its letter that those same cisgender girls have beaten one of those transgender athletes in 10 races.
In their letter, the members of Congress demand to know why Betsy DeVos’s agency is apparently violating its own policy by not deferring to the federal court case. They want an answer by July 1.
In its May 15th decision, the DOE Office of Civil Rights threatened to “either initiate administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue and defer financial assistance to the CIAC, Glastonbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, Cromwell, Canton, and Danbury, or refer the cases to the U.S. Department of Justice for judicial proceedings to enforce any rights of the United States under its laws.” The OCR also threatened “further enforcement action after no fewer than 20 calendar days” from May 15th, but that has so far not materialized.
Six of the seven members of the Connecticut delegation signed their letter, as did 22 other congressional Democrats. Outsports has reached out to Sen. Chris Murphy for his position.
State Attorney General William Tong also weighed-in Wednesday, stating that Connecticut’s current policy reflects a state law that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.
“The law clearly demands that transgender girls be protected from discrimination in athletics and elsewhere,” Tong said in a statement obtained by the AP.
And where is Gov. Ned Lamont in all of this? Good question.
Outsports has attempted to obtain a comment since May 29, and so far his only statement on the matter was to make clear his priority is to not lose federal education dollars: “I don’t want to lose any federal funds, that’s for sure!”
A week ago, the governor said at a news conference that his office was consulting with the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee for guidance, but in three weeks no one on his staff has replied to repeated requests for clarification: will Gov. Lamont support the rights of trans students to compete fairly?
Our DMs are open, gov.
Read the full letter from the congressional delegation by clicking here and click below to read the May 15th letter from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.