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Biden administration withdraws from transgender athlete case

Biden pulls out of trans suit

The Biden administration has withdrawn government support for a federal lawsuit in Connecticut that seeks to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls' high school sports.

Connecticut allows high school athletes to compete in sports according to their gender identity. The lawsuit was filed a year ago by several cisgender runners who argue they have been deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two transgender sprinters.

The Justice Department and the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights withdrew their support for the case ahead of a hearing scheduled for Friday on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Trump administration’s intervention in the case last year came as state legislatures around the country debated restricting transgender athletes’ participation to their gender assigned at birth. Seventeen states considered such legislation, and Idaho passed a law. The Republican-controlled Mississippi legislature overwhelmingly approved a similar bill earlier this month.

Supporters of restrictions on transgender athletes argue that transgender girls, because they were born male, are naturally stronger, faster and bigger than those born female.

Last March, then-Attorney General William Barr signed what is known as a statement of interest in the Connecticut lawsuit, arguing the state's policy runs afoul of Title IX, the federal law that allows girls equal educational opportunities, including in athletics.

In a filing Tuesday, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham and other department officials withdrew Barr's statement, saying, “The government has reconsidered the matter.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs declined to comment.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference has said it is following a state law that requires all high school students be treated according to their gender identity.

The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights last spring and summer sent letters threatening to cut off some federal funding to Connecticut school districts that followed the policy.

On Tuesday, the office notified those involved that it was withdrawing those letters “as well as the underlying findings and determinations,” and does not wish to become a party in the lawsuit.



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