In response, the agency last year sided with the girls that the state policy violated Title IX—but has now withdrawn that stance under the new Biden administration.
The group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said the office’s action on Tuesday was “defying common sense.”
The decision “can’t change biological reality or the correct interpretation of the law,” said Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel with ADF.
ADF is representing three girls in their lawsuit against the Connecticut Association of Schools. The girls alleged that they were adversely affected by having to compete against biological males in track events, with benefits such as college scholarships possibly being at stake.
Two biological males identifying as transgender females won 15 state championships in women’s track events. One of the males broke 10 state records previously held by ten different female athletes.
The girls’ complaint in Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools said that sex-specific sports have been based on “biological differences,” as “those differences matter for fair competition.”
In response, the Trump administration issued letters of impending enforcement action against Connecticut, ruling that the state’s high school athletics policy violated federal civil rights law.
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Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments Act prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded education activities and programs. The Education Department also had referred the cases to the Justice Department.
On Tuesday, however, the ED civil rights office not only said it was withdrawing its previous findings in the cases, but also said that it would be reviewing the cases based on President Biden’s recent executive order reinterpreting sex discrimination.
That Jan. 20 order said that federal civil rights protections against sex discrimination also protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Legal experts warned that the sweeping order would force girls to share sports, locker rooms, and shelters with biological males identifying as transgender females.