Denny: Supreme Court Should Look to Transgender Sports Case in ‘Harris v. EEOC’

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CWA’s Vice President of Government Relations, Doreen Denny penned the following opinion piece published on CNSnews.com highlighting  Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, arguing the definition of sex in federal civil rights law in the context of employment. Doreen argues that the Justices should consider DOJ’s recent conclusions about the impact of gender identity-based claims on women in a Connecticut sports case in their deliberations.

“The Supreme Court announced it will resume oral arguments by teleconference in May. Several high-profile cases are being decided and opinions in these cases are sure to break through the latest news of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among them is Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, arguing the definition of sex in federal civil rights law in the context of employment. If the Court rules sex under Title VII includes “gender identity,” it would effectively rewrite federal law and invalidate policies and practices which treat men as male and women as female.

The Justices would do well to consider DOJ’s recent conclusions about the impact of gender identity-based claims on women in a Connecticut sports case in their deliberations in Harris.

Late last month, Attorney General William Barr signed a Statement of Interest in the federal case about the meaning of sex and equal opportunities in women’s sports. Three Connecticut high school female track athletes have been forced under state athletic association policy to compete against male runners identifying as girls.

Connecticut officials have rejected the concerns of female athletes, claiming federal law compels them to allow students to compete according to the gender with which they identify. Racing against males with built-in physical advantage, the female plaintiffs have lost opportunities to excel in their sport, including state and regional titles.

But, in a 13-page statement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) flatly rejects the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) claim that Title IX requires classifying transgender students according to their perceived gender, not their biological sex:

“Title IX and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination solely ‘on the basis of sex,’ not on the basis of transgender status, and therefore neither require nor authorize CIAC’s transgender policy. To the contrary, CIAC’s construction of Title IX as requiring the participation of students on athletic teams that reflect their gender identity would turn the statute on its head.”

Barr’s statement offers multiple reasons why dismissing “on the basis of sex” as binary and immutable would be fallacy and should move us a step closer to protecting an equal playing field for every female student athlete in America:

  • Physiological differences between the sexes matter in protecting equal opportunity.”

Read Doreen’s Entire Piece Here:

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