Eighteen Connecticut high school student-athletes filed a federal suit against the state of Connecticut on Tuesday in an effort to block a directive that transgender athletes use a separate locker room and bathroom from the rest of their high school team, according to multiple media reports.
The suit -- which is being filed by athletes on both the varsity and junior varsity teams at Torrington High School in Torrington, Connecticut -- was reportedly filed by high school cheerleader Sarah Ross and cross-country runner Jenna Vitale. It argues that the directive "severely infringes upon Plaintiffs’ right to privacy and requires them to violate their health, religious, and gender-identity rights," The Hartford Courant reported.
According to the lawsuit, the new rules from the Connecticut Department of Education "not only violate the federal Title IX laws prohibiting gender discrimination in schools that receive federal funds, but threaten Plaintiffs’ fundamental right to provide a healthcare service, and may even lead to injury,” The Courant said.
The directive stems from a disagreement between Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) and Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell over how to implement a new directive issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on transgender people. The CDC advisory released in November issued new guidelines on how public schools should evaluate and care for transgender students. The CDC is known for producing public health guidelines, but school districts are not required to accept its recommendations.
In December, Wentzell -- who has said she supports LGBTQ rights -- gave all high school student-athletes who identify as transgender guidance on what they should do regarding the guidelines. That led Malloy to object.
Malloy has said there was not enough time for legislators to debate and pass legislation before Sept. 1, the date the CDC guidance was to take effect, but his request was rebuffed by the Legislature on Monday. Malloy is expected to push for a bill to be passed during the upcoming legislative session, which begins Monday.
The new guidance, according to Connecticut News Media, said that trans students must be allowed to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity and also do not face harassment from staff and fellow students, and that while this new guidance is expected to be implemented in September, it is not mandatory for all school districts or departments of education.
In seeking to block the directive before its official implementation, the Connecticut News Media report says that the athletes involved in the lawsuit are concerned that the rules could jeopardize their eligibility for sports competitions as well as their reputation.
Students need to declare their gender identity to be eligible for the state high school varsity soccer and football playoffs, according to The Courant.
More than 20 states have passed laws and policies banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity, and in July of last year, four states were granted a federal court ruling declaring that their anti-discrimination laws don't trump federal Title IX protections on the basis of sex.