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Attorney General William Tong

07/02/2020

AG Tong Urges U.S. Department of Education to Rescind Title IX Enforcement Threat in Light of SCOTUS Decision

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Letter of Impending Enforcement Action Against Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, and CT School Districts Must Be Rescinded in Light of Bostock v. Clayton County SCOTUS Decision

(Hartford, CT) –Attorney General William Tong today sent a letter urging that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights withdraw its “Letter of Impending Enforcement” targeting the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and several Connecticut municipalities in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County affirming that federal civil rights law prohibits discrimination against transgender people.

Since 2011, Connecticut law has recognized that transgender girls are girls. Following Connecticut law, the CIAC in 2013 adopted a policy that transgender girls can participate in high school sports as girls.

In a May 15 “Letter of Impending Enforcement,” the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights wrongly determined that in adhering to that policy, that CIAC and the school districts in Glastonbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, Cromwell, Canton, and Danbury violated Title IX. The letter states that OCR may begin proceedings to deny federal funding or refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for legal proceedings. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

“The letter’s claims are simply wrong. Title IX does not bar transgender high school girls from competing in girls’ track events. Under Connecticut law and federal law, transgender girls are girls,” Attorney General Tong states in the letter. “Please know that we will strongly oppose, in any forum, any attempt to strip Connecticut school districts of funding merely because they are following a policy that aligns with the law.”

Attorney General Tong joined 19 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in Bostock v. Clayton County, arguing that federal prohibitions against sex discrimination must also extend to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Click here or see below for the full letter text:

Kenneth L. Marcus
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights
400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20202

July 2, 2020

Re: Case Numbers 01-19-4025, 01-19-1252, 01-20-1003, 01-20-1004, 01-20-1005, 01- 201006, and 01-20-1007

Dear Assistant Secretary Marcus:

I strongly urge you to reconsider and withdraw your office’s May 15, 2020 “Letter of Impending Enforcement,” which targets the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) and the Connecticut school districts of Glastonbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, Cromwell, Canton, and Danbury.

The letter’s claims are simply wrong. Title IX does not bar transgender high school girls from competing in girls’ track events. Under Connecticut law and federal law, transgender girls are girls.

Since 2011, Connecticut law has required that transgender girls competing in high school sports be treated equally and fairly. This has been the CIAC’s policy since 2013. It is the policy in 17 other U.S. states and in the District of Columbia.

Just a few weeks ago, in Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 US _ (2020), the Supreme Court made clear that discrimination against transgender individuals is illegal under federal law. Bostock held that, under Title VII, a transgender woman cannot be fired for failing to conform to an employer’s definition of what it means to be a woman. And under Title IX, a transgender girl cannot be blocked from competing in high school sports merely because she does not conform to another person’s idea of what it means to be a girl. As Justice Gorsuch wrote in Bostock, “all persons are entitled to [the] benefit” of our anti-discrimination laws.

There is no place for politics in high school sports. It is wrong to drag high school students into a highly-charged policy and political battle that pits students against other students. Connecticut cares deeply about the transgender girls who have been targeted here, just as much as we care for the girls who brought their complaint to you. We will do all that we can to ensure that all girls are treated equally and fairly under the law. All of them are Connecticut’s bright future.

It is for all of them that my office will defend Title IX, which protects every girl and woman’s right to participate as girls and women in interscholastic athletics. We will not allow Title IX to be misused to degrade women and girls. Please know that we will strongly oppose, in any forum, any attempt to strip Connecticut school districts of funding merely because they are following a policy that aligns with the law.

Very truly yours,

William Tong


cc: Timothy C. J. Blanchard
Director, New York Office
United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights
32 Old Slip, 26th Floor
New York, NY 10005


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