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Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere

The starter fires his pistol during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 7, 2012. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)

On Wednesday, three high school girls filed a federal lawsuit against education and athletic associations in Connecticut for their incomprehensible decision to allow boys to compete against them in female sports.

The lawsuit outlines that the girls’ “opportunities for participation, recruitment, and scholarships” have now been “directly and negatively impacted” by the state’s so-called transgender policy. Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, designed to protect opportunities for women, explicitly prohibits discrimination on the “basis of sex.” But the effect of this policy has been to displace girls and to deny them opportunities at their own sporting events.

Last June, the girls — two choosing to remain anonymous — filed a Title IX complaint with the Education Department. However, the process has proven lengthy, and they feel they cannot wait any longer, nor should they have to.

Addressing an audience at a press conference at Hartford’s Superior Court, Selina Soule, a senior at Glastonbury High School, said:

Like the other track athletes standing here today, I face an impossible situation. . . Now, when we line up in front of our blockers and the starter calls us to get into position, we all know how the race will end. We can’t win. We’ve lived it. We’ve watched it happen. We’ve watched it happen. We’ve missed out on medals, on opportunities to compete. But when we’ve asked questions, we’ve been told we’re allowed to compete, but we shouldn’t expect to win.

Chelsea Mitchell, a senior at Canton High School, said:

This issue is very personal for me, but it’s not just about me. It’s about every young woman who dreams of competing, of having her chance, of being rewarded for doing her very best. . . All we’re asking for is a fair chance.

Alanna Smith, a sophomore at Danbury High School said:

Fairness of play has already been removed from my Freshman track experience, and I don’t want to feel defeated again or have other female athletes feel defeated before a race begins. And so, my involvement in this complaint, which has nothing to do with lifestyle, is simply about fairness of play, that all female athletes have a right to fairness of play.

Smith’s father, Lee, is an MLB Hall of Fame pitcher; her mom, Cheryl, ran high school track; one of her uncles played professional baseball, and another played in the NFL. She won the 100-meter dash at the Connecticut state track championship in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. She says that playing sports is in her genes.

I interviewed Selina Soule last summer and was impressed by her courage and sense of self. Since then, Soule’s courage has helped inspire her peers to come forward under their own names. Courage calls to courage everywhere. One can only hope that more young women will feel buoyed by their witness and stand up for their rights and opportunities.


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