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Female Athletes Refuse to Back Down After Court Throws Out Challenge to Males in Girls' Sports

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Four high school female athletes are appealing a court ruling that dismissed their challenge to a Connecticut policy that allows males to compete in girls’ sports.

Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith and Ashley Nicoletti will continue to challenge the policy, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm announced Monday.

The four have all suffered setbacks in their athletic endeavors because they have been forced to compete against males, ADF said in a news release.

“Mitchell, for example, would have won the 2019 state championship in the women’s 55-meter indoor track competition, but because two males took first and second place, she was denied the gold medal,” ADF said.

“Soule, Smith, and Nicoletti likewise have been denied medals and/or advancement opportunities.”

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A federal district court on Sunday dismissed the girls’ legal challenge to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference policy that allows males to compete against females.

“Our clients — like all female athletes — deserve access to fair competition; that means authentically equal opportunities to compete, achieve, and win. But competition is no longer fair when males are permitted to compete in girls’ sports,” ADF legal counsel Christiana Holcomb said.

“Males will always have inherent physical advantages over comparably talented and trained girls; that’s the reason we have girls’ sports in the first place,” Holcomb said. “Unfortunately, this court has chosen to ignore our clients’ demoralizing experiences of losing to male runners.”

Mitchell called the ruling “discouraging” and suggested that it ignores science.

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“Female athletes like me should have the opportunity to excel and compete fairly,” she said. “No girl should have to settle into her starting blocks knowing that, no matter how hard she works, she doesn’t have a fair shot at victory.”

“When I raced against male athletes, I knew that, even if I ran my best, I could only finish second in my heat, and third overall,” Nicoletti added.

“Girls like me have suffered countless losses because of the CIAC’s policy, and today’s ruling ignores this fact. I will continue to tell my story and fight for fairness in women’s sports.”

The CIAC policy has allowed two males to compete in girls’ athletic competitions since 2017, according to ADF.

“Between them, they have taken 15 women’s state championship titles (titles held in 2016 by nine different Connecticut girls) and have taken more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher level competitions from female track athletes in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons alone,” the law firm noted.

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Legislatures in 31 states have introduced bills aimed at banning males from female sports, according to data compiled by the American Principles Project.

The governors of ArkansasIdahoMississippi and Tennessee have signed such legislation into law.

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